The ideas, concerns, and hopes of the people across the region are expressed in their collective vision of a thriving future. Here are the six themes participants highlighted in Community Conversations and what the people across our communities want to work toward for 2025.
In 156 community conversations in every one of the 32 counties, the Power of 32 collected more than 15,000 comments from diverse people who offered their perspectives on our strengths and challenges, their hopes for our brightest future, and how best to ensure it. The message was clear: if the region is to thrive, the citizens, our leaders, and business, education, and government must work together on common issues and not be stymied by political and parochial boundaries.
We have created a sustainable economy, reversed the trend of losing farm land, adopted cost-effective business development practices and become a model of regional cooperation. Our highly diverse economy continues to grow because of the innovations and vision of both our entrepreneurs and our leading businesses and industries, our strong research institutions, and our high rates of educational attainment. We have the lowest unemployment rate of any region in the country. Recognizing that shale gas and the broader energy industry will be significant drivers of the regional economy in the next decade and beyond, we have taken steps to assure that this opportunity produces the broadest possible legacy of prosperity.
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All students in the region have access to high-quality instruction and the most advanced curricula, regardless of district, county, or state jurisdiction. Life-long partnerships have been forged among the PreK-12 education system, higher education, and the business sector which assure all students are prepared for post-secondary education and that life-long learning is available for the high-demand jobs found in regional growth industries or the entrepreneurial sector.
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Together, we have achieved broad economic growth while preserving our values, integrity, and natural resources. We have built a strong tourist industry. We have developed clean, green technology, community-led environmental protection, robust, environmentally friendly businesses, and many recreational outlets.
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Local governments and elected officials cooperate with each other across boundaries and consistently assess how we can improve our region. There is shared economic growth and more harmony among governments, businesses, and residents. More people vote and are excited to support our visionary elected officials and forward-thinking private organizations.
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We have communities of generous, loyal, friendly, proud, diverse, and successful citizens and boast a worldwide reputation as a great place for all to raise a family, live, work, and play. Our region offers wide range of job opportunities for a diversified work force, and we value our multi-cultural history. Our region favors partnerships and collaborations, and embraces change. We have strong values, a strong work ethic, and strong neighborhoods.
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We are a world leader in innovation in technology and policy for smarter, cleaner, more efficient, and more secure and sustainable transportation. We enjoy a clean, easy-to-navigate, efficient, and non-car-dependant transportation system, fully connecting the region while respecting our environment and the character of our people and places. We have high-speed internet service for all.
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