CONNECT Our Future Toolkit: Regional Growth Framework
CONNECT Our Future was a three‐year process that brought together public, private and nonprofit organizations across a 14‐county region to develop a plan for growth that will help build jobs and the economy, improve quality of life, and control the cost of government.
WRT prepared the final products for the CONNECT Our Future regional framework, which consisted of an interactive and user-friendly website and magazine. The project involved more than 80 jurisdictions in 14 counties in North and South Carolina in planning for a projected population growth of nearly two million over the next 35 years.
The project started in the fall of 2012 with a robust community engagement process. WRT team members engaged community members about their personal needs and values through open houses, small group discussions, and surveys. More than 2,200 participants from the 14‐county region provided a wealth of valuable information.
Next, WRT facilitated Reality Check 2050, where 400 participants helped us begin to figure out how we fit the projected 1.8 million people and 850,000‐plus jobs to be added to this region by the year 2050. The public involvement continued as 1,600+ residents were able to attend community workshops to provide their feedback on the themes developed during the Reality Check 2050 activity. Finally, residents were able to ultimately weigh in on each "Alternative Growth Scenario" that was developed, leading to the selection of a preferred scenario for the region.
WRT designed, organized, and developed the content for connectourfuture.org, with the goal of allowing communities in the region to customize and select the tools and best practices that best fit their community needs, and move forward with the priorities most important to them. There are 46 tools that can be filtered by priority, location, or partner.
The website employs a smart search function and includes a portal linking to CONNECT regional indicators that are maintained by the UNCC Urban Institute. Designed for wide distribution, the magazine encapsulates the story of CONNECT in a very accessible manner. The magazine can be reproduced as needed and serves multiple purposes by promoting the region, celebrating the working partnership across community boundaries, and directing municipal leaders, business owners, and residents to the website to learn more about tools.