Taylor/My Turn: Taking control of the future
The Town of Greenfield has been very active during 2013 with many dedicated individuals working hard at developing a 10-year Sustainability Master Plan for the town. This plan consists of outlining a vision for what Greenfield should look like and be in 10 to 20 years. A major part of this plan is the economic development in Greenfield.
As a 28-year resident, and Greenfield businessman it is exciting to see how proactive this town is in determining its future. As a member of the subcommittee on economic development, I am pleased to share some of our developments. We are currently outlining an economic vision with goals that will direct us toward this vision. In order to obtain these goals, specific strategies are being developed along with steps for implementation of those strategies.
A number of months have been spent obtaining baseline economic data, reviewing previous plans and inviting key people to present at our meeting regarding their current efforts, successes and difficulties in developing business in Greenfield.
We have been able to draw upon community comments through the March Community Workshop as well as Facebook and MindMixer websites that allow the community to present their ideas. If you have not had the opportunity to participate, then please go to the following websites: http://www.greenfieldmasterplan.com/, http://engage.greenfieldmasterplan.com/, or https://www.facebook.com/GreenfieldSustainableMasterPlan to provide your ideas and become part of the process of moving our town forward.
We have the benefit of relatively low-cost housing that many surrounding areas do not have and a high quality of life. Surprisingly, a very significant number of the labor force (47 percent) both live and work in Greenfield. Health care and education remain our most active employers. We also find that 84 percent of our businesses are small business. This creates a desirable business character for the town and is an area to build upon.
Greenfield is a ripe area for entrepreneurs who want a high quality of life. Fostering a vibrant economy that draws upon the local colleges and universities will allow this area to develop. As this plan develops, I am sure we will be targeting these areas with strategies to draw small to mid-sized businesses and their jobs to Greenfield.
Although the final goals and strategies are still in the working phase, I can share that we are aware of the current difficulties in the town as well as our emerging potential. Some of the areas that have potential are the creative economy (arts and entertainment and related businesses), light manufacturing, ecotourism and homegrown food-to-table, including the farming, processing, distribution, marketing and other areas related to food production. The economic cevelopment subcommittee also shares the goal of the Transportation subcommittee to make the downtown district more pedestrian and bicycle friendly as part of the downtown revitalization.
We have the potential to create our own local micro-economy and build a better future by increasing employment in the area, optimizing the use of our open land, and filling the vacancies in the downtown commercial district. We recognize the importance of the development of arts, music, and culture along with restaurants in the downtown district to create a magnet for people to live or visit here and for businesses to expand or locate here. The subcommittee also sees a need for forming partnerships. Forming partnerships with the educational institutions will foster a draw of young entrepreneurs to the area. Partnerships with the business community will assist in a collective effort toward the outlined goals. In addition the town needs to create incentives to draw the new business to Greenfield. There is also a necessity to create not just any type of jobs but living wage jobs through supporting and expanding the traditional and innovative business development that will sustain our local economy.
Should any Greenfield citizen desire to provide us with input, ideas or strategies, please participate in the above websites. As the community comes together to work toward mutual goals, there is nothing that cannot be accomplished. Greenfield can provide a better quality of life for its citizens by maintaining what we all like about the town while improving the local economy.
David N. Taylor, DC, is a member of the economic development subcommittee for the Greenfield Sustainable Master Plan.