A road map to the futureA road map to the future

Brent Peinhardt, a Birmingham-based management consultant, left, talks strategic planning at a meeting at Cullman City Hall Thursday evening

The City of Cullman launched a series of committees Thursday that will work in the coming months to develop strategic planning aimed at addressing a variety of community needs as well as develop a road map to the future.

Mayor Woody Jacobs introduced the beginning of the process, which he said was agreed upon through a series of internal meetings.

“We did something like this on a different level in 2001. We’ve known we needed to do this because the city has grown so much,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs introduced Brent Peinhardt, a Birmingham-based management consultant who has worked with municipalities and corporations on strategic planning, as the facilitator for the project.

In the introductory session at City Hall, Peinhardt said strategic planning should focus on three areas:

— Where are we today?

— What is the vision for the future?

— Develop a planning document or roadmap on how to achieve goals.

The mayor and Cullman City Council also agreed on a vision statement as a basis: “Small-town values, big-town opportunities.”

Jacobs said the effort in working with Peinhardt and bringing together committees representing business, education, retail, economic development and other areas comes from a need to sustain growth and to create an environment that encourages and welcomes development as well as a higher quality of life setting.

In the process of meeting over the next six months, the committees will examine and make recommendations concerning economic development, infrastructure, quality of life, city and community services, and community partnerships.

“The bold leaders have a bold vision with a lot of people involved who believe in it,” Peindhardt said. “The world is changing very fast. The economy of the future is not the economy of 15 or 20 years ago. The mission is to find your vision for the future and take the steps to accomplish what you see. Planning processes have a start, but don’t stop. It’s not something you do once. Plans have to be living, vibrant.”

Peinhardt said many cities of Cullman’s size are declining, but noted Cullman has beat that trend and is recognized for its economic development efforts.

“Most of the time people, even in leadership, can’t tell you where they want to be in 10 years,” Peinhardt said. “Great organizations don’t stop at pretty good, they keep moving forward. You have to have advantages to win, and that’s something you will have to consider.”

Peinhardt covered a wide range of topics during his prelude to the initial committee meetings. But specifically, he emphasized that economic development will evolve and require targeting specific types of business, and that quality of life will continue to grow as a key factor in drawing new residents to the area.

He also stressed that unity of purpose will be important in maintaining what city leaders want in their community while building greater amenities and opportunities for the future.

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David Palmer has decades of experience in the newspaper industry. He currently serves as editor of The Cullman Times.

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