Fayette Visioning highlights progress at second annual summit

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Woolsey Mayor Gary Laggis (left) was one of several municipal leaders who used Friday’s Fayette Visioning summit to share information with the public about how the additional funds would be used if the upcoming special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) is passed. (Staff Photo by Danny Harrison)

Fayette Visioning, a collaborative community group piloted by Fayette County Chamber of Commerce and other partner organizations, held its second annual summit Friday to update supporters and the public on its progress toward elevating the community’s “education, prosperity, employment opportunities, and quality of life.”
Hatched in late 2013, the idea for Fayette Visioning was really dreamed up by business leaders in early 2012, but it would be early 2014 before the “vision plan” was complete and a Competitive Assessment of Fayette County was published. That assessment compared Fayette statistically to other similar communities in other parts of the United States, and it also reflected survey responses from Fayette residents based on their perceptions of the community.
Fayette Visioning Chair Larris Marks told her audience Friday that she and other committee members participated in Fayette County Chamber of Commerce’s October road trip to Greenville, South Carolina to learn more about how that city, once an industrial town in recession, revitalized to become not only a vibrant community again but also a Southeast regional tourism destination.
“Like us, they have a road map of activities to take the community to the next level,” Marks said. She said the trip helped her realize Fayette Visioning is on track to help this community grow and thrive, noting in particular 12 “performance indicators” (three per focus area) that were identified earlier this year.
Under “Education,” the stated indicators are High School Graduation Rate (stay above national average), Challenging High Schools (rank on Washington Post’s “Most Challenging High Schools” list), and School Climate (have all local high schools score a 4 or 5 on the Georgia Department of Education School Climate rating).
Under “Economy,” the indicators are Percent of Industrial and Commercial Property Taxes in Fayette County Tax Digest (at 24.2%, aiming for 30%), Annual Unemployment Rate (stay below state average, which is now 6.3% compared to Fayette’s 5.1%), and Annual Wage Rate Paid in Fayette County (stay above Georgia’s average weekly wage, which is $1,082 compared to Fayette’s $831).
In this last indicator for a healthy Fayette economy, it was noted during the summit that Fayette has largely been a bedroom community for residents to earn wages in other counties, thus reflecting lower Fayette wages. Many people earning wages in Fayette live out of county and work at local retail establishments.
Under “Place,” the indicators are Access to Recreation and Culture, Quality of Life, and Sense of Place, all of which would be based on perception surveys.
Under “Community,” the indicators would be Community Involvement, Health Index, and Safe Places Lists. The first of these indicators would be based on perception surveys, and the other two would be based on independent rankings from outside organizations.
Specific goals for the future and success stories from the past in each of the four focus areas have also been published and were featured in a brochure distributed by Fayette County Chamber of Commerce associates at the summit. These report elements featured in the brochure are available at www.FayetteVision.org by clicking on the Committees tab at the top of the page.

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About

Danny Harrison, a 1992 Fayette High School graduate, began his journalism career with Fayette County News in 1995. After taking several leaves of absence to pursue journalism and Christian ministry opportunities, including a few out of state and overseas, he returned full-time to Fayette County News in August 2014. Harrison earned a bachelor's degree in pastoral ministry in 2009 while serving as a missionary journalist in England and Western Europe.


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