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Counties plan for the future


UNDATED (WSAU) -  What will your community and your government be like in 25 years? There are people planning for that, by analyzing trends and data, then making decisions about how to be ready for the future. It’s called a Comprehensive Plan.

Most of us never see or understand the long range planning that businesses, organizations, and even governments prepare to carry out their future goals.

Two area governments working on their 25 year comprehensive plans are Marathon and Portage. They are at different stages of the process.

Portage County Executive Patty Dreier says they are putting together their first comprehensive plan. She says the meetings and discussions to listen to residents and county staff have been valuable. “It’s been a very fruitful process. We’ve had a lot of great conversations around meaningful topics, about the future of our county, what do we want it to be, and also how our county government will function.”

They have identified specific areas to focus their attention. “We have four strategic goals. One of them has to do with economic development and our quality of life. One of them has to do with our facilities. One is dealing with streamlining and improving our processes and systems in county government. The fourth one is dealing with our human capital, attracting and retaining a skilled and professional workforce.”

In Marathon County, Administrator Brad Karger says Marathon County is now updating a comprehensive plan they already have. “We have a comprehensive plan that was adopted six years ago. What we’re trying to do is take a look at it under the current conditions and update it. We’re also a little disappointed in ourselves in that we believe the plan could have been more long-reaching and more aggressive in terms of trying to shape the future of our land base and economics and social networks for the next 25 years.”

There are different types of plans. Karger says Marathon County recently developed a strategic plan, which is different from a comprehensive plan. “The county has adopted just in the last year a strategic plan which guides county government for the next three to five years. The comprehensive plan looks beyond what you can accomplish in county government and involves all of the major players within our community and says, “25 years from now, where do we want to be?””

The two administrators say the comprehensive plan requires a great deal of input and data from many sources, and not just from within county government. One source both are using is the Life Report compiled by The United Way in Marathon and Portage counties, which has a great deal of research and data without having to independently gather the same information.