Citizens interested in the future of Cherokee County gathered at the Cherokee County courthouse on Wednesday to develop economic development goals and to prepare a vision statement, part of an ongoing process to develop a comprehensive plan to give direction to the county through 2020.
Patty Anderson, senior community development planner for Siouxland Interstate Metropolitan Planning Council, was the facilitator for the meeting.
Expanding, retaining and developing agribusinesses was a prime objective that the group felt was needed for the county. Agricultural products include not only food, but energy, plastics and other products as well.
In addition to plant based energy, the expansion of wind energy in the county is an objective.
There was a good deal of discussion on products that fill a niche that is not being filled anywhere else. Branding and promoting Cherokee County beef and/or Cherokee County Pork was mentioned as a possibility. Also, expanding alternative farming, including organic farming was discussed.
The group talked about creating more amenities and promoting those already available as a way to attract and retain young families. Promoting tourism was a related topic.
Promoting more use of the facilities on the Cherokee Mental Health Institute grounds was discussed.
Completion of the comprehensive plan is expected sometime early next year. Besides economic development, there will be sections on facilities and services; housing; land use and on demographic information.
Anderson said the comprehensive plan not only provides goals, the existence of the plan becomes important in applying for grants. Those awarding grants take into account the existence of an updated comprehensive plan and the specific goals set.