SHEPHERDSTOWN — The Jefferson County Development Authority has been working to regain trust throughout the county over the past couple of years, since its work to lure the Denmark-based company, Rockwool, to the county brought it into public disgrace. As a result of the situation, 12 of the authority’s board members resigned in Nov. 2018.
Shepherdstown quickly replaced its former JCDA representative with James Gatz, who has since dedicated his time, along with the rest of the board, to increasing the JCDA’s transparency and communication. A 10-question survey will be available until Monday at 5 p.m. for community members to take at www.surveymonkey.com/r/JCDASurvey. The survey is the final stage in the JCDA’s information gathering phase for its five-year strategic plan.
“The survey is to kind of get people’s thoughts about what they see for the future of the county in terms of economic activity,” Gatz said, mentioning he hoped to see a lot of responses from Shepherdstown residents. “I really want to make sure the people of Shepherdstown are able to participate in this survey. I think it’s really important that Shepherdstown in particular participates in this, because I believe they’ll have many great ideas.”
The 10-question JCDA survey will be available to take online through Monday at 5 p.m. Courtesy photo
In February, the JCDA hired the consulting firm, Capacity Partners, Inc., to help with the strategic planning. Over the months between then and now, the firm and JCDA has interviewed county government leaders, hospital representatives and business leaders, to get a sense of county issues the JCDA needs to address. The firm and JCDA has also connected with some economic development authorities in other counties in this and other states, to find out how they’ve dealt with challenges similar to Jefferson County’s. The survey will possibly be the final step in the JCDA’s countywide information gathering, before it begins developing the plan.
“We had planned on holding in-person focus group meetings with people from the community. I’m not sure if that will happen now, because of pandemic, but the survey will provide at least one source of information,” Gatz said, mentioning that if the pandemic ends by this fall, focus groups may still be held.
Gatz said he thinks the plan development will begin in August and continue for a few months.
“The board will have meetings to talk about the strategic plan and to help develop some goals for the board and some strategies to meet those goals,” Gatz said. “We’re trying to do it in a way that is very transparent and clear to the community, and as a way that we can be found accountable.
“The Jefferson County Development Authority will report back to the community about the progress we’re making,” Gatz said about the plan. “The general idea is that we lay out a game plan and work toward it, but also make sure we’re keeping the community aware of how things are going. ‘Cause hopefully the strategic plan, the game plan, will reflect a lot of ideas the community will suggest.”
To learn more, visit blog.jcda.net/blog/jcda-seeks-community-input.