City planning session to focus on economic development
By Seth Thomas Gulledge
The Daily Reflector
Friday, January 26, 2018
The Greenville City Council and city staff will be spending most of the weekend discussing the current state and future of the city, including ideas to bring in bigger business to the area.
The annual City Council Planning Session will begin on Friday afternoon and resume on Saturday morning. During the session, the council, with several new members, will receive an update from city staff on the 2016-18 Strategic Plan, and work on crafting their own strategic plan for the duration of their terms.
The priorities of the 2016-18 strategic plan included several projects that have been completed, such as red-light cameras and the Southside Police Substation. Other projects, such as completing the Town Common Master Plan, and the implementation of more LED lighting throughout Greenville, are ongoing.
Major capital projects the previous council identified in their strategic plan include a bridge connecting the Town Common and River Park North, though whether the bridge is to be constructed as a standalone — which is much costlier, or as an attachment to the Greene Street Bridge has not been determined. Besides building the bridge, improvements identified in the Town Common Master plan include a bathroom facility, playground and kayak launch — all of which are to be completed by summer, and improvements to the park bulkhead and relocation of the amphitheater, which has not yet been funded.
Another major aspect of the sessions will include a detailed look at the city’s economic development plan. According to the session agenda, an analysis of the city’s economic possibilities and limitations was requested by Mayor P.J. Connelly and will figure prominently into the planning sessions. The session will explore the various offerings and barriers that Greenville has to promoting business, especially attracting large corporate companies to locate in the city.
Included in the presentation from staff are recommendations the city explore arranging formal economic development partnerships — it currently has none — and creating ‘shovel-ready’ industrial sites in the area, including funding ‘shell buildings’ for companies to move directly into. The presentation also suggests the council discuss a job creation grant.
For small businesses, the presentation includes suggestions that the outdoor dining policy be revised and expanded for the downtown Greenville area, as well as implement recommendations to improve parking issues.
In addition to the strategic plan, the council will hear presentations from Jay Golden, East Carolina University vice chancellor of research, economic development and engagement, about the state and opportunities of the region. Carl Stenberg with the UNC School of Government will facilitate a goal-setting session for the council on Saturday morning.
The session will be held in the City Hall Gallery starting at 4:30 p.m. on Friday and 8:30 a.m. on Saturday.
Contact Seth Gulledge at Sgulledge@reflector.com and 329-9579. Follow him on Twitter @GulledgeSeth