CARTHAGE, Ill. -- Hancock County's new strategic plan was unveiled Thursday night during the annual meeting of the Hancock County Economic Development Corp.
The county enlisted Maggie Strong, owner of meSTRONG, to lead the process. In presenting the plan to the board and others in attendance, Strong discussed the plan's three focus areas -- business retention, expansion and attraction; workforce development; and marketing and recruitment.
"The people of Hancock County are invested in their community," Strong said. "They have a lot of opportunities and a lot of committed folks who want to see these goals and strategies come to fruition."
Strong said a continued emphasis on Hancock County's CEO Program is crucial for the future success of the county.
"That really gets to the small-business development issues small communities are facing," she said. "You have to grow your own when it comes to the next generation of small-business owners."
Economic Development Corp. Executive Director Terry Pope said the class size of the CEO Program, which is currently 13 students, more than doubled from last year. In the three years since the program began, 34 students have gone through it.
Pope delivered the results of a survey that tested all Hancock County high school freshman, juniors and seniors on, among other things, their plans for the future. According to the survey, Pope said, most students surveyed do not plan to stay in Hancock County after graduation. However, many of the students surveyed said they would be open to the idea of starting a business in the county.
"This survey shows we have some opportunities, if we partner business with education, to help you people know there are careers in Hancock County," Pope said.
The Economic Development Corp. provided the seed money for the CEO Program and continues to support it each year. Providing strategic, integrated career awareness education to at least 1,500 students annually is a goal outlined in the strategic plan.
Pope also pointed to some measures of success the county has already achieved. Two new businesses, the Warsaw Brewery and FullSpeed Broadband, launched in the county in the past year. In conducting an assessment of Hancock County's workforce, he found that most of the companies he spoke with are anticipating continued growth.
In accordance with the strategic plan, the Economic Development Corp. is in the process of developing a new website and is actively working to promote Hancock County through social media. It recently underwent a "brand refresh," as Strong described it. The corporation's logo and tagline have both been updated.