Want quantity? First, get quality

Want quantity? First, get quality Main Photo

27 Jun 2024


The conversation is growing louder and louder throughout the field of economic development about how the model has flipped–people don’t follow jobs anymore, jobs follow people.

Want to attract businesses to your community? It helps to have plenty of people able to work those jobs.

How do you attract people to a community? Give them plenty of reasons to come and stay.

That’s where quality of place comes in.

Quality of place consists of the elements that make a community a distinct and vibrant place to live, work and play. It’s the stuff that makes a place home and what makes it shine.

Hancock County already has a lot going for it in this regard. Anyone who’s ever spent a summer afternoon on the Pennsy Trail, sipped an apple slushie at Tuttle Orchards, or taken in a concert at Depot Street Park knows this.

But it’s always good to have a strategy for maintaining and continuing to improve quality of place. The Community Foundation of Hancock County and Hancock Economic Development Council are working with HWC Engineering to do just that.

Efforts on a county-wide quality-of-place plan began in April and have included focus group meetings and public workshops. When completed, the plan will feature short- and long-term goals, key strategies, and actionable implementation items.

After the plan’s public engagement components have concluded, a participation report will be shared with a steering committee to inform members of what was learned along the way. Then work will begin on key strategies and action items, which will be presented to the public for further feedback. Following any more adjustments, the final plan is slated to be presented in November.

The plan was the topic of the Hancock Economic Development Council’s Human Resources Group Lunch and Learn earlier this week. Professionals with HWC Engineering gave an overview of the initiative and gathered feedback from attendees to help make the final result as strong as possible.

The Lunch and Learn sparked a robust discussion on Hancock County’s quality-of-place strengths, opportunities, and barriers from participants, who hailed from the fields of business, education, nonprofits, and workforce.

Discussed strengths included the cooperation among the county’s school corporations and how that is helping drive Amplify Hancock, a facility planned to provide workforce and career track education and training.

The county’s diversity was also mentioned, particularly how its rapidly growing and changing west side compares to the more rural and agricultural east.

The creation of Hancock County’s first parks and recreation board was praised as well.

Opportunities discussed included having more activities for teenagers, as well as educational activities for adults with more of an entertainment angle–like art classes.

Boosting messaging for activities so more people know about them was also talked about, along with keeping in mind how different generations get their information.

Increasing diversified housing, transportation options, and childcare opportunities were other topics attendees encouraged the quality-of-place planners to keep in mind as they craft the strategy.

The last community workshop for the quality-of-place plan is tonight (Thursday, June 27th, 2024) at 6:30 p.m. at Eastern Hancock High School, 10320 250N, Charlottesville.

Can’t make it? There’s also an online survey created to gather feedback from community members.

The HEDC hosts an HR Group Lunch & Learn every quarter. The event offers presentations on human resources-related topics and draws attendees from local businesses, schools, and nonprofit organizations. Sign up here to stay in the loop on future events.