During its annual Fall Conference in Savannah, the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) announced that nine Georgia communities, including Thomasville, have received statewide distinction in the PlanFirst program. The PlanFirst program recognizes excellence in community planning and is given to communities with a proven track record of strong development and implementation of their comprehensive plan.
“Earning the PlanFirst designation is quite a compliment to the City of Thomasville,” said Steve Sykes, City Manager/Utilities Superintendent. “Being named a PlanFirst community comes with specific incentives that are beneficial to Thomasville. It is very rewarding to be recognized at the state level for our planning efforts.”
To apply for PlanFirst, communities are required to address four primary program criteria: goals, leadership, community participation and implementation. The designation is for three years – beginning January 1, 2018 – and enables these communities to take advantage of various incentives that include public recognition, the eligibility to apply for certain state grants, and reduced rates in certain state loan programs.
The City of Thomasville is currently engaged in the comprehensive planning process, and Sykes said that the PlanFirst designation illustrates how important a strong comprehensive plan is to the community.
“At a time when we are engaged in planning our community’s future, this designation provides affirmation from the State regarding the importance of setting a clear vision for the community,” said Sykes. “The City recently hosted a series of community workshops for Blueprint: Thomasville 2018, a 9-month comprehensive planning process to develop a vision and decision making framework to move Thomasville into the future. It was gratifying to see more than 600 citizens come out and participate in the fall workshop series. That speaks volumes about the level of commitment and engagement from Thomasville citizens.”
“Good planning sets the stage for economic growth,” said DCA Commissioner Christopher Nunn. “PlanFirst communities should serve as role models for cities and counties around the state – showing strategic and bold vision for the future, and how to turn this vision into a solid, practical plan.”
Project Manager Eve Geyer and City Planner Brian Herrmann were instrumental in the City’s successful application to be named a PlanFirst community. Other communities that were also recognized at DCA’s fall conference as a 2018 PlanFirst community included Crawford County and the Cities of Adel, Byron, Forsyth, Griffin, Jesup, Perry, and Tifton.