Column: Planning effort is the area’s chance to have its voice heard

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 13, 2003

The City of Albert Lea and surrounding area have undergone many changes over the years. As these changes took place, numerous efforts to both facilitate and respond to these changes have occurred. For example, a number of committees, commissions, boards and special districts have been created. Individuals have often stepped forward to help initiate many of these changes.

The Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce has decided to conduct a comprehensive community strategic planning process to draw all of these efforts of the various interests in the community together to create a unified and comprehensive vision of what the community wants to be, looking several years into the future.

In creating this vision, the chamber will be seeking input from as many citizens, interest groups and organizations as possible. To do that, the chamber has hired the firm of Virchow, Krause & Co. to assist in this process. Their staff will provide an objective and unbiased approach, which is intended to be all-encompassing for the community.

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The first step is to get input from the community to develop a list of characteristics that would result in creating the ideal community for the Albert Lea area. This will be done through a series of listening sessions, which will be small-group meetings conducted by local citizens, business, union and community leaders. The information developed during the listening sessions will be assimilated and presented to the &uot;Albert Lea Area Listens&uot; Strategic Planning Steering Committee for review and refinement. From this list a realistic comprehensive strategic plan with a vision of the community and goals to be implemented to achieve that vision will be developed.

We need everyone’s assistance to help make Albert Lea an even more successful and vibrant community in which to live, work and recreate.

As the Mad Hatter in Through the Looking Glass said, &uot;if you don’t know where you want to go, it doesn’t matter which way you go.&uot; We want to know which way you want to go!

More information will be forthcoming as the listening groups are created.

(Marge Hamersly is president of the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce.)