Aspirational Goal: Aiken Vision
One of the first tangible action items from the recent Aspiration Cities Tour has been set in motion. Determining the answer to the question, “What is the vision for Aiken’s future?” has begun.
Community and civic leaders in the three communities visited on the September tour each shared their respective community’s vision for the future and detailed the methods used to achieve those visions. It was noted on follow up surveys of the Aiken group that participants’ number one finding from the trip was the lack of a clear vision for the future of Aiken. City Manager John Klimm, who was also a participant on the tour, later shared that the City of Aiken had recently been asking the same question. The trip simply solidified the need to make this a top priority and find an answer immediately.
“Our city is at an important point: new investments, a new spirit of collaboration and new leadership all grounded in a rich history that both challenges and inspires what our future can be. The vision statement will serve as a way to move Aiken to an even higher level of greatness,” said Klimm.
A task force of individuals from the Aspirational Cities Tour immediately began working to identify a method to develop a community vision statement that would best represent the will of the citizens of the community and not just a few individuals or those who participated in the trip. A discovery process that would assist the City in gaining wide spread input from all citizens was developed by Mayor Rick Osbon and Klimm in collaboration with Dr. Gemma Frock, Jimmy Angelos, Dr. Tom Hallman, Diana Floyd, Julie Whitesell, Vance Reynolds, Mandy Collins and David Jameson.
“I do believe through this process we will find common threads throughout our community, identifying shared treasures, as well as common fears or frustrations,” said civic leader Diana Floyd. “Once these common goals are identified, a plan can be developed that enhances our common values, while addressing our shared concerns. We are a unique collection of citizens, and if we capitalize on this correctly, looking for ways to embrace the values of each segment of our community, we will find the future of Aiken that will forever remain unique to us.”
The Columbia based Boudreaux Group has been retained to conduct individual interviews with a large cross section of individuals as a part of the Discovery Phase of the project. These personal interviews will consist of open-ended and broad-based questions to gather ideas and concepts to guide the development of the vision statement as well as a plan to attain the vision.
Following the interviews, the Boudreaux Group will draft an initial vision statement based on the input received. The draft will then be fully vetted at a series of public meetings where the entire community will be encouraged to participate in transforming the initial draft into a final statement for City Council’s consideration.
“By developing an updated vision statement with input from the entire community, Aiken City Council will be able to lead Aiken into a future that citizens will welcome,” said
“The Aspirational Cities Tour convened, stimulated, and educated a group of community leaders on best practices on a variety of subjects,” said Jameson.
“It is exciting to see the City of Aiken taking the role of champion on this effort. The goal of the Aiken Chamber is to step back, create an encouraging environment and see what actions the community of Aiken embraces.”
The first Aspirational Cities Tour hosted by the Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce took a diverse delegation of 48 business and community leaders to Greenville, South Carolina, as well as Winston-Salem and Raleigh, North Carolina. For more information on the Aspirational Cities Tour visit aikenchamber.net and click on Chamber News for September 2015.
The Aiken Chamber of Commerce will kick off a three-part series of monthly programs entitled “Aiken Aspires” at First Friday Means Business beginning January 2016. This series will bring speakers that addressed the participants of the Aspirational Cities Tour to Aiken allowing more individuals in the community to share in the enthusiasm for enhancing Aiken. The series will begin January 8 with David A. Diaz, President/CEO, Downtown Raleigh Alliance.