GREENVILLE — Twenty years after the Coalition of Greater Greenville first put together some of its areas of focus, the group Thursday looked back upon those goals and revamped them to guide its actions moving forward.
While the group made great progress in many of the initial goals, members said, what it set out to do in 1994 are still what it hopes to accomplish.
Whether it be promoting healthy lifestyles, lifelong learning, enhancing downtown or promoting the city’s lakes and river, group members said they must continue to think of ways to push the community forward.
“We can get anything done together, that’s our mantra,” said Kathy Jo VanderLaan, business services manager of Central Area Michigan Works Consortium.
The group added to and made some minor adjustments to its goals, but came to a consensus on the three areas it wished to address most.
“Everyone believes that we need to concentrate more on economic development,” VanderLaan said.
With the top priority set at economic development, the more than a dozen in attendance discussed how best to address economic development and even define what it means for Greenville.
“Bringing money in from outside the area is the engine behind true economic development,” VanderLaan said.
Greenville City Manager George Bosanic said it is important to take action in economic development and not simply encourage business growth.
“We can’t just say we’re for it, we have to do it. And we have to do it more aggressively because everyone else is also,” he said. “We’re no longer cheerleaders, we have to get in the game.”
The discussion led to members feeling a need for different groups and agencies in the community to meet with residents from all walks of life and economic status to gauge their thoughts on what economic development meant and how it applied to Greenville specifically.
“Economic development means a lot of different things to a lot of different people,” VanderLaan said. An idea for a potential town hall meeting with anyone who wished to attended to discuss development in the Greenville area garnered a lot of interest from those in attendance.
“What does economic development mean to the person who can’t get out of poverty?” asked United Lifestyles Executive Director Jodie Faber.
The coalition also identified building a progressive community with a small-town feel and a safe place to raise successful children as a top goal, along with building a community which fosters lifelong learning.