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Orange County enters third stage of its first comprehensive strategic plan

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A woman walks down a path in Umstead Park by the Bolin Creek Trail on Monday, April 4, 2022. Environmental protection is one of the six areas of focus for Orange County's strategic plan.

Orange County is in the development and approval phase of its first-ever comprehensive strategic plan. This is the third of five phases of the plan's development, and was presented at the Nov. 10 Board of County Commissioners meeting.

The strategic plan was drafted based on input from the community, Orange County staff and the Board of County Commissioners. The project is also overseen by BerryDunn, a local government consulting group. The six areas of focus for the strategic plan are environmental protection and climate action, community health, housing for all, multi-modal transportation, public education and learning organizations, and a diverse and vibrant economy.

“First, the board identified the broad strategic goals and then we held an all day session with the [Orange County] department directors to develop those objectives which sort of get at how the strategic goals can be achieved,” Travis Myren, the deputy county manager for Orange County, said.

Phase three of the strategic plan includes assessing current conditions and future needs in the county. 

The County is holding workshops with departmental leadership and the BOCC to develop the plan. They are also currently gathering community feedback in the form of surveys.

​​Residents also have the opportunity to use a community engagement platform, Social Pinpoint, to provide feedback. The platform is designed to support the strategic planning project and can be accessed on the County's website. Social Pinpoint includes an interactive map and a community survey.

Todd McGee, Orange County's community relations director, said part of community involvement in the strategic plan's development also includes reaching out to typically underrepresented groups to gain a broader representation of opinions about the community’s future.

“The commissioners want to really hear from the community members about what's important to them,” McGee said. “So that's why they're trying to do a lot of outreach and get a lot of engagement.”

According to Orange County’s Strategic Plan webpage, part of the reason why strategic planning is important is because it sets priorities, focuses resources and assesses the direction of an organization in response to a continually changing environment.

Upon completion, the County says, the guide will act as a framework for budgeting, policy decisions and will provide stability during election cycles.

McGee said the strategic plan came about as part of the BOCC's desire to outline a blueprint for the long-term prosperity of the county. 

County commissioner Anna Richards said the Strategic Plan is meant to serve as a guiding document, and she said the plan will hold the BOCC and County officials accountable to its objectives.

“We have kind of a north star that says, ‘Here's where we see the county going,’ and also some guidance to staff around what are the guiding principles or values that we want,” Richards said. 

The final adoption of the plan is currently set for January 2024.

After the current development and approval stage, the plan will enter its implementation recommendations and budgeting phase. During this phase, a recommendations report will be presented to the BOCC and County leadership.

@DTHCityState | city@dailytarheel.com

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