Thursday, December 18, 2014 · 7:31 p.m.

Area leaders want public input for 40-year regional plan

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Leaders are asking residents a 16-county tristate region of Northeast Alabama, Northwest Georgia and Southeast Tennessee to participate in the planning of the area's future. 

Thrive 2055 is a public-private initiative aimed at plotting the course of the area's 40-year regional growth, and leaders with the coordinating committee for the effort will be meeting with their colleagues, staff, peers and friends throughout February and March to discuss the strategy. 

Thrive 2055 

For more information about how to host a Meeting in a Box or to request a Thrive 2055 speaker for a group or event, click here or call Bridgett Massengill at 423-648-2947.

They are calling the gatherings Meetings in a Box. 

They want area residents to meet and discuss ideas on their own schedules. 

“Widespread public engagement will drive the Thrive 2055 process in its entirety,” Bridgett Massengill, project manager for the initiative, said. “This means that in order for this process to be successful, we need everyone to participate, providing input that is fully inclusive and fully representative of all individuals living and working in our region.”

Leaders have created a meeting template of discussion questions and an online summary page.

The materials are designed to facilitate small group brainstorming sessions to talk about issues and concerns most important to them about our region’s future.  

Groups then submit feedback, and the responses will be shared with working groups and the coordinating committee, pertaining to the particular issues that were discussed.  

The information will be used to help determine and shape the strategy based on the values of area residents, according to a news release. 

Leaders are also working to engage the public by providing dedicated Thrive 2055 spokespeople to any community or civic group in the area whose members want to communicate facts and latest developments of the process at their regularly scheduled meetings.

“Our desire is to reach as many people as possible in the entire region and further encourage them to continue the dialogue by taking it back to their places of work, schools and homes,” Brian Anderson, chair of Thrive 2055 and president and CEO of the Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce, said in a prepared statement.  “This method is proving to be an effective and meaningful way to get people talking about the future of this region and empowering everyone to be the framers and decision-makers for the next 40 years.”

Counties making up the Thrive 2055 region include Jackson and DeKalb counties in Alabama; Dade, Walker, Catoosa, Murray and Whitfield counties in Georgia; and Bledsoe, Bradley, Hamilton, Marion, McMinn, Meigs, Polk, Rhea and Sequatchie counties in Tennessee.

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