This weekend I spent time with my colleagues on Council and 19 City staff members at our Strategic Plan Retreat. We worked with Management Partners, a consulting firm with whom we have a long-standing relationship, to navigate us through the process. The guiding document was the results from the 2021 Survey of Residents that you completed, along with an Environmental Scan completed by staff.
The City of Montgomery utilizes the University of Cincinnati’s Institute of Policy Research to conduct our Survey of Residents. According to UC, we are the only municipality that chooses to send our survey to all our residents, not just a select few or at random. We do this because we care about what each one of you has to say.
We were thrilled that 97% of Montgomery respondents indicated they are satisfied or very satisfied with how the city is running. Of course, we spent the weekend focusing on areas where we can improve. We discussed the best ways to maintain what is working well and forecasting future concerns, such as the financial impact from the increasing trend of working from home. Much time was dedicated to how to successfully move the city forward while maintaining the quaint, small-town feel that makes Montgomery our home.
This was my first time as a member of the Council during the strategic planning process. What I found extremely effective was the structure of the small break-out groups and how input was collected. The group discussing economic development, for example, was comprised of someone from the Fire Department, Public Works, Council, and HR-not just someone from the Finance Department. Each area of focus had this type of mix and rotated, allowing each person to participate in the various groups. The resulting discussions were far richer because of the varied points of view represented.
By the end of the weekend, we identified six main areas to focus on from 2022-2026:
- Economic Development: Montgomery Quarter, downtown vitality, vacancies, the cohesiveness of business areas
- Infrastructure: Stormwater management, enhanced park facilities, sidewalks
- Programming/recreation: Classes, what new spaces are needed, Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA), partnerships with businesses
- Financial Sustainability: Covid impact, maintaining AAA credit rating, grant identification, cybersecurity
- Communication/Community Engagement: New ways to reach residents, a mobile city app, volunteers, Montgomery Citizen’s Leadership Academy (MCLA)
- City Staffing: Employee development, recruitment, succession planning, staffing levels
The result of this retreat is not a static plan of action. As always, we want to hear your ideas as to how we can implement our mission of being the best city in Ohio. As work now begins to implement the plan, I encourage you to contact us at any time for updates or to provide additional input. Montgomery is unique and successful because residents are engaged, we have exceptional city staff and a council of volunteers dedicated to keeping this city the special place that it is.