CHATHAM — The Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve a strategic plan to help guide the county Tuesday night.

The plan is a map or timeline for ways leaders can improve the county in four main categories: economic development, financial stability, strategic partnerships with education providers and citizen engagement.

Pittsylvania County Administrator David Smitherman said the plan is not meant to be a binding commitment, but a sort of guideline for county leaders, present and future.

“This is a statement of goals and direction, and is not committal,” he said.

Many of the proposals in the plan, such as improving relationships between committees and building mentor relationships between the school board’s high school liaisons and the county’s youth commission are intentionally vague. Other steps — many of which build on earlier steps — involve specific, actionable steps.

The strategic plan was first presented in January, but it was tabled because several supervisors wanted to wait until the new budget was implemented in July.

Supervisors Elton Blackstock and Bob Warren both expressed concern during the work session meeting about the funds necessary to complete some of the steps. Smitherman said no additional funding will be required during the next 12 months to fulfill the proposed action points.

Warren and Blackstock also expressed concern with the funding for elements such as the public information officer position.

“I don’t think it’s necessary,” Blackstock said of the public information officer position, which was proposed with a start date of as soon as funds are identified.

The board unanimously agreed to extend the hire date for the public information officer until 2021 during an work session meeting earlier in the afternoon.

Board Chairman Joe Davis, in addition to Elton and Blackstock, showed some skepticism about the necessity of hiring a county lobbyist — a step proposed for 2021.

Warren also requested that any steps that need appropriated funds would require board approval. The board unanimously agreed to accept the proposal during the work session.

The majority of the proposed actions would be completed within the next five years, but a few of the economic development and financial stability goals extend through 2029.

For economic development, the plan suggests defining economic development metrics for success, meeting with schools to determine current workforce needs and evaluating how to better market Pittsylvania County as a tourist destination.

The plan also suggests increasing collaboration between the board of supervisors, the Pittsylvania County Service Authority, planning commission and Industrial Development Authority.

For financial stability, the plan proposes defining and setting goals for financial stability in 2024 and 2029, including improving the strategy for getting and implementing funding from state and national sources.

The plan also suggests completing a regional study with Danville concerning the possibility of building a sports facility — which, if carried through to completion, would be finished in 2029.

In terms of strategic partnerships with educational providers, by 2021 the county is aiming to establish a broadband authority commission that will provide broadband availability to 90% of county residents by 2024.

For increasing citizen engagement, the plan suggests providing opportunities such as mentoring, shadowing and internships for Pittsylvania County students. The board would aim to fully implement the program in 2024.

Another proposed action is re-examining the process for bringing in and developing members of appointed boards. The suggested goal is to identify and provide the necessary funding to require annual professional development for board members by 2021.

The board worked with Joey Faucette, founder and president of consulting firm Get Positive Today to develop the plan. Faucette served as a professional facilitator for the board of supervisors and county administration.

Ayers reports for the Register & Bee. Reach him at (434) 791-7981.

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Ayers reports for the Register & Bee. Reach him at (434) 791-7981.

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