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Shenandoah supervisors given economic development plan

By Sally Voth

Shenandoah County Community Development Director Brandon Davis hopes the Board of Supervisors endorses an economic development strategic plan at its next meeting.

The supervisors are scheduled to meet on Feb. 26. Davis said he initially presented the plan to the panel at its meeting Tuesday morning.

Nearly two years ago, the Board of Supervisors replaced its economic development committee, made up of its own members, with an economic development strategic planning steering committee. Besides Davis, two board members, two Industrial Development Authority members, Shenandoah County Public Schools Superintendent Keith Rowland and a county Planning Commission member were on the steering committee.

The plan includes a job and education profile of the county.

At 24 percent of all county jobs, manufacturing makes up the biggest industry share -- about 8 percent higher than the region share -- followed by the education and health fields at 21 percent. This is followed by the leisure industry at 11 percent.

Between the county's two industrial parks -- one in Strasburg, the other in Mt. Jackson -- there are more than 160 acres available for prospective businesses.

While manufacturing has the biggest market share, Shenandoah County is among the state's five top farming counties.

The plan includes four actionable goals. The plan refers to the first step as "economic gardening," or helping existing industries to expand.

While the county's economic development team members would be the ones mainly in charge of initiating partnerships to make this happen, "public and private leaders throughout the county must also take advantage of every opportunity in their day-to-day lives to embrace a culture of growth and change," the plan states.

In a Tuesday afternoon phone interview, Davis explained that large-scale manufacturers wouldn't need help from his department on a business plan, but a much smaller business might need assistance in coming up with a plan and crunching numbers. That help could come from him, or a public-private partnership or the private sector.

For the second goal, the plan is to get the "Shenandoah" brand out, and highlight Washington, D.C.'s proximity, as well as the county's farming history.

The third goal relates to workforce development, which emerged as a need. An industry and education roundtable will be made up of representatives from county government, public schools, the Workforce Investment Board and area universities and community colleges.

The final goal focuses on clear communication among the county government and its counterparts in the towns

"Cooperative land use growth plans, and annexation plans are essential to the orderly and appropriate development of Shenandoah County," the plan states.

The community development office would create a regulatory guide for people looking to start a business.

"We've already started to implement a lot of [the actionable goals]," Davis said. "Most of them are very reasonable solutions. It's just a matter of getting them done."

Contact staff writer Sally Voth at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or svoth@nvdaily.com


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