Hardin County’s Vision Project has come to a successful conclusion. The project, which was first announced in July 2009, involved dozens of community leaders representing various constituencies from across Hardin County.
The Honorable Harry L. Berry
Hardin County Judge/Executive
Luke B. Schmidt
President, L.B. Schmidt & Associates, LLC
For Immediate Release
Hardin County Vision Project Identifies Several Key Community Goals for the Future
Project Involved Community Leaders from Across Hardin County
Elizabethtown, Kentucky (April 1, 2010) – Hardin County’s Vision Project has come to a successful conclusion. The project, which was first announced in July 2009, involved dozens of community leaders representing various constituencies from across Hardin County.
The purpose of the project was to build upon the positive momentum that has been created by the BRAC transformation at Fort Knox and to begin developing a vision for what the County might look like in the future. The project was designed to build upon Hardin County’s strengths and current growth opportunities, identify weaknesses, maximize efficiencies and establish strategic community goals.
“The Vision Project identified many areas which when addressed will make Hardin County an even better place to live, work and grow business opportunities,” said Hardin County Judge/Executive Harry Berry. “Hardin County has always been one of the Commonwealth’s leading counties,” Berry continued, “we need to capitalize on what BRAC is bringing to the community and further position the County for future growth and new jobs.”
Louisville-based consulting firm, L.B. Schmidt & Associates, LLC, conducted the project on behalf of Hardin County Government. The project’s methodology included the following key activities:
County Strategic Assessment
The consulting firm identified key issues and conducted an assessment of the County’s strengths and weaknesses. This was accomplished by interviewing a number of groups and agencies in the County. In addition, a 30 page confidential key stakeholder survey was conducted. Over 70 community leaders representing the agriculture, business, education, government, health care, industrial, military, and tourism sectors returned surveys.
The project also analyzed benchmark (or peer) counties that align with Hardin County demographically in order to determine how these counties approach various issues, such as community and economic development. The benchmark counties included:
- Daviess County, Kentucky (Owensboro area)
- Lee County, Mississippi (Tupelo area)
- Lowndes County, Mississippi (Columbus area)
- Montgomery County, Tennessee (Clarksville area)
- Warren County, Kentucky (Bowling Green area)
Community Leadership Forum
Two community leadership forums were held which included participants in the key stakeholder survey process. Survey findings were announced and a presentation on the benchmark counties was given.
Project consultant Luke Schmidt stated, “This project enjoyed the support of the community and its leaders. From start to finish, the participants in the project provided key input and engaged in significant discussion on a multitude of issues. There is no question that the participants have developed a vision for the County’s future which will enhance the quality of life and make Hardin County even more competitive when it comes to new business investment and the creation of new jobs.”
Community leaders participating in the vision process in Hardin County reached consensus on a number of broad areas, including:
- Strong support for education at all levels
- A desire to unify the community in order to leverage its size to improve the efficiency of the delivery of services
- A desire to speak with one community voice in order to improve the community’s standing and stature in Frankfort and Washington, D.C., as has been successfully illustrated with One Knox
- A desire to eliminate duplication when and where possible by combining groups and organizations in order to improve efficiency and more efficiently market and promote the community
- A desire to improve the existing quality of place/quality of life by improving the visual appearance in urban areas, changing existing alcoholic beverage laws in order to foster the development of new restaurants, pubs and other new dining experiences, and, to develop new retail opportunities
- A desire to re-develop Downtown Elizabethtown to include new retail, entertainment and residential opportunities which will be unique to the County and will serve as a magnet for young professionals
A number of specific goals were also adopted by the project’s participants (a complete list of the goals is attached to this release). Some of these key goals, identified by area, include:
- Education – develop “leading edge” educational platform in the community, beginning with Kindergarten and extending through post-secondary education
- Community Unification – facilitate study of merged government structures in other communities and develop recommendations for Hardin County
- Community Development – create new “powerhouse” entity which will promote all facets of the community (business and retail development, business and retail advocacy, industrial development, education, work force training and tourism) for the combined purposes of representing businesses, promoting the community and creating new jobs
- Quality of Place/Quality of Life – adopt new practices which will eliminate visual clutter and improve streetscapes, develop new retail opportunities to mirror those commonly found in larger urban areas, develop a community YMCA, and, change existing alcoholic beverage laws to achieve full “wet” status for the community’s urban areas,
- Downtown Elizabethtown – create new retail, entertainment and residential district in Downtown Elizabethtown and identify new funding mechanisms which will facilitate this process
- Health Care – obtain Trauma Center certification at Hardin Memorial Hospital
A public forum will be held on Thursday, April 29, 2010, beginning at 4:00 PM at the Hardin County Performing Arts Center (John Hardin High School, 384 W.A. Jenkins Road, Elizabethtown) to which the public is invited. A detailed presentation on the Vision Project will be given which will include a more specific examination of the issues and strategic goals.
“There are many opportunities in front of us which will take the County to the next level,” said Berry, “By working together, I’m convinced that the best is yet to come.”
Hardin County is the sixth largest county (by population) in Kentucky and is governed by the three Commissioners of Hardin County Fiscal Court and Hardin County Judge/Executive Harry Berry (www.hcky.org).
L.B. Schmidt & Associates, LLC is a Louisville-based consulting firm which specializes in strategic planning, organizational development, public affairs, economic development and marketing/communications projects (www.lbschmidt.com).