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With a vision established, the effort to achieve begins 

by League Director of Public Affairs Scott Mooneyham

One of the key points made during CityVision 2015, the League’s annual conference held in Winston-Salem, was that the League’s Strategic Visioning process had not come to an end. Far from it. With the identification of vision statements, key challenges and guiding principles, the organization is now at a new beginning, a fresh start of helping member cities and towns reach the vision that they had set for themselves for 2030. 

League Board Members Cary Council Member Jennifer Robinson and Clayton Mayor Jody McLeod discussed that beginning – and the member-driven, bottom-up process that established the vision for cities and towns in 2030 – during a sharp and informative presentation at CityVision 2015: Ignition! Their presentation marked the formal unveiling of the findings of the Strategic Visioning process. Robinson and McLeod led the presentation after co-chairing a task force that helped lead the process. 

As Robinson made clear, the process the League used to establish that vision was outward facing, inclusive and transparent. The 10 challenges, which cities and towns identified as immediate and future, focused on demographic and technological changes, restrictions on municipal authority, declining state and federal support for infrastructure needs, and public unawareness of the roles and responsibilities of municipal government. From those challenges, six guiding principles were established after months of UNC School of Governmentled meetings and discussions. The principles are at the core of the vision cities and towns have set for themselves to achieve by 2030. They are: 

  • Municipal governments will exercise greater control over their revenues, structures and function. 
  • Municipalities demonstrate the value they add to the community’s quality of life. 
  • Technology is widely used for service delivery, citizen engagement and economic development.
  • Municipalities widely practice productive partnerships with counties, other governments and the private sector. 
  • Urban and rural communities routinely work together for economic success. 
  • Municipalities are able to quickly adapt to cultural and demographic changes in their communities. 

With those guiding principles in hand, League Executive Director Paul Meyer spoke about how the League can and will help municipalities reach that vision. He laid out four strategic areas that the League must be able to execute in order for that happen: reaching and empowering North Carolina citizens, improving the organization’s political positioning and influence, expanding effectiveness and value of membership services, and bolstering leadership development of city officials. 

As a part of that, he discussed creating a state of the art communications operation that can effectively convey to the public and to state policymakers the value cities and their contributions as catalysts for economic growth and to the quality of life that North Carolinians enjoy. 

“Quite simply, this is about telling our story,” Meyer said. 

He acknowledged that cities need help now, and that the League staff will have to adapt quickly to provide that help. One aspect of that change is the continuing development of a robust grassroots program that creates a strong, diverse and well-organized political network of League members and their allies. Another is a media campaign that was also unveiled at CityVision 2015, which will focus on city-led economic development efforts.

A video, Building a Vision for Cities’ Tomorrow, concluded the presentation and sets the stage for that campaign by examining the financial and policy challenges that municipalities face, even as they have been and continue to be a driving force in the North Carolina economy. The video is available on the League’s YouTube channel, nclm1908, and foreshadows the more concrete steps to come in the next few months to help achieve that strategic vision. 

It is just a beginning.