I-40 group looks to establish strategic plan

The I-40 Economic Development Working Group divided into four working teams in hopes of establishing a strategic plan and becoming better organized during a strategic planning workshop held Feb. 8 at Northland Pioneer College (NPC) in Holbrook.

The Governor's rural liaison, Brent Brown, was a special guest at the meeting, and made comments and suggestions about resources available to the group. Terry DeValle of Arizona Public Service Co. (APS) also attended in order to offer assistance and NPC Business Coordinator Doug Ressler facilitated the workshop.

The group members listed their priorities during the workshop, which included identification of assets, selecting a specific goal or project, increasing the commitment of stakeholders and the creation of teams to work on organizational structure.

Holbrook City Manager and group chairman David Newlin explained that, overall, the group wants to limit the scope of its activities in order to strengthen its focus. The four working teams were then created and designed to help accomplish that goal. One group will create an operational plan and a budget, another will identify three potential projects for the group, another will identify a regional collaboration project, and the other will research and report on demographic information.

Newlin remarked that the group is considering a collaboration with the White Mountain Regional Development Corporation (WMRDC).

"Maybe we ought to think about how to join forces," Newlin said. "We've been talking with each other."

It was also suggested that the I-40 group's organizational structure and budget be based on WMRDC's, since the WMRDC has a 15-year history to learn from.

Each working team was assigned specific tasks and will meet regularly immediately following the I-40 group's regular meeting. The next regular meeting is scheduled at 8 a.m. on Thursday, March 2, at the NPC Fitness Center in Holbrook. Working team meetings will follow at 1 p.m.

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