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County developing a vision for the future with Power of 32

| Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Representatives from county organizations, businesses and government took part in Community Conversations on Tuesday at Penn State-Fayette, the Eberly Campus. It is the first step in a 32-county initiative known as the Power of 32.

The Power of 32 is a two-year regional visioning initiative that will involve 32 counties in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland and Ohio to create a shared vision for the region's future, based on the input of those in the community attending meetings held yesterday in the region.

Along with collecting the information from those attending the meetings, the Power of 32's goals include" to instill a sense of realistic optimism and inspire public determination to solve the region's problems and seize the region's opportunities, inspire a cross-sector leadership across the region committed to acting on the regional agenda and finally to connect with people, communities and institutions in new and effective ways to best assure a sustainable innovative and globally competitive region and high quality of life for all residents."

Those attending were asked to come up with their idea of what a thriving region looks like. Answers included a good infrastructure, welcoming of new ideas, open to change, increase in home ownership, quality education, low unemployment and decent transportation.

Discussed at yesterday's meeting were the key challenges that must be addressed for the region to thrive, the strengths the region can build on, and what the communities had to be proud of.

"The agenda is developed here," said Dennis J. Cremonese, a Power of 32 volunteer facilitator. "When we're together with the process, we have more power in making things happen."

Patricia Jones, an outreach coordinator for the Power of 32, said her job in finding interested organizations like Fay-Penn Economic Development Council, Fayette Forward, Penn State Fayette and others has made the process of identifying county-wide issues easy. She said these organizations have already embraced some ideas and goals that the Power of 32 is initiating.

Yesterday's meeting was the first step of the Community Conversation initiative. To follow will be Framing Solutions, which will begin in the fall. Here policy options that build on assets and opportunities will be developed and vetted to address the top challengers identified.

The third and final step will be the Regional Town Meetings, which will be held sometime in 2011. Those attending these meetings will prioritize the policy options that best address the top regional challenges and take advantage of the opportunities.

For more information on becoming involved in the Power of 32, visit www.powerof32.org.

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