Greater Hall Chamber Launches VISION 2030

VISION 2030, A Clear Path to Our Future, is a year-long community planning process sponsored by the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce. The program will be launched this month with its first steering committee meeting, a recruitment drive for volunteers and a news conference.

“We are excited about getting VISION 2030 started,” said Chamber Chairman John Vardeman. “It will be a wonderful opportunity for citizens to come together, think about the community they want to live in and then have a hand in making that vision become a reality.”

The idea of a community vision began during Rob Fowler’s tenure as Chairman of the Chamber Board in 2004. Fowler, a partner with Turner, Wood and Smith Insurance and Anita Scott, Northeast Georgia Medical Center are serving as co-chairs of VISION 2030.

VISION 2030 grew out of a special leadership summit in March 2005, where more than 100 diverse community leaders learned about community visioning and voted overwhelmingly to launch a visioning process for Hall County. Since then, the Chamber has spent the summer planning the project with the assistance of outside consultants.

In brief, community visioning is a process for engaging large numbers of citizens to think about and plan their community’s future. By doing so, visioning helps create consensus, opens the door to new ideas and strengthens citizen support for action. Visioning itself is not a new idea – large corporations and non-profit organizations have used these techniques for more than 40 years. Community visioning became popular in the early 1980s when used successfully in the revitalizing of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Since then, hundreds of large and small communities have used visioning, including Greenville, S.C. and Rome, Georgia.

Currently, VISION 2030 organizers are recruiting volunteers to help with 10 vision meetings that will be held at different locations in October and November.

“The most important element for a visioning process to succeed is for it to be inclusive and open,” said Chamber CEO and President Kit Dunlap. “We need as many people to come to these meetings as possible. And that’s why we need the volunteers – we want them to help bring their friends and neighbors to the meetings.”

Denise Deal, a community volunteer and member of the Chamber’s Executive Committee for Government Affairs, will assist in coordinating the visioning team. A major part of Denise’s job is recruiting volunteers to help with outreach.

“We’re aiming to attract 100 people to attend each of the 10 vision meetings this fall,” Denise said. “To get that many people, we’re signing up volunteers to make phone calls, since we know that the best way to get people to attend is for volunteers to extend personal invitations.”

In addition to the meetings, VISION 2030 will keep citizens engaged in the project throughout the year with an unprecedented communications effort, including a web site and regular e-mail newsletters. The web site – – will be launched in late September and will contain reports on every visioning session.

“Any document we create will be posted on the web site in a timely manner so the public can see what’s happening as the project moves forward,” Denise said.

Like most community visioning processes, the VISION 2030 will have two phases: a “Pure Visioning” phase this fall and a strategic planning phase starting in January.

The pure visioning phase will consist of the 10 vision meetings and end with the drafting of a “Common Vision” that captures the major elements citizens say they desire in Hall County. In January, HALLmark VISION 2030 will then convene strategic planning groups to make recommendations on how to achieve the vision. In May, the process will host a Community Day, during which citizens can review and comment on the plans.

Throughout the process, there will be numerous opportunities for citizen comment and volunteer involvement. Anyone interested in volunteering should call the Chamber at 770-532-6206 or e-mail Denise Deal:

Otis White, President of Civic Strategies, Inc., is one of America’s top community leadership analysts, having studied business, political and civic leadership networks across the country. Civic Strategies is a strategic planning firm that structures public policy solutions for cities and regions. He is editor of the Civic Strategies E-Letter, a twice-monthly digest of civic news and trends from around the country, and contributor to magazines and newspapers about leadership trends. White is the consultant for the HALLmark Vision project.