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Community visioning project MyTri2030 begins to take shape

Six key areas emerged when 4,500 Tri-Citians shared their priorities for the region’s future.

The top focus areas — education, prosperity, inclusion, agriculture, thriving life and energy — were unveiled last month after nearly a year of working to better understand what citizens want to see develop in Tri-Cities over the next decade.

Dubbed MyTri2030, the visioning project’s survey results were unveiled Feb. 27 during a Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the Pasco Red Lion Hotel and Convention Center.

Paula Linnen, chair of the Regional Affairs Committee, said the MyTri2030 team noticed two central themes: immense pride in the region’s achievements over the past decade and a noticeable fever from community members and leaders to define new goals and opportunities for regional collaboration.

“With a better understanding of our region’s strengths, challenges and desires, the MyTri2030 team is proud to present a set of six opportunity areas that will serve as a framework for the next phase of our journey. It’s a journey we will continue to inform and implement together,” Linnen said.

Here’s a closer look at the six big opportunity areas:

• Education: improving continuity between primary, secondary and higher education, providing more resources for students and encouraging them and their families to want to stay in the community.

• Prosperity: cultivating and promoting career opportunities to link employer needs with talent already within the community, including youths newly entering the workforce.

• Inclusion: drawing on the Tri-Cities’ uniquely diverse population to unify the community via common values such as these six opportunity areas to open the door to building more authentic connections between community members.

• Agriculture: continuing to integrate the abundant agricultural resources that first established the region into the economic and social fabric of the region’s future and empower the growers who cultivate them.

• Thriving life: overall enhancing the quality of life of citizens, which will encourage them to want to remain a part of the Tri-City community and continue to contribute to it and help it grow.

• Energy: capitalizing on the plethora of alternative energy sources available in the region and drawing on the flourishing technologic, scientific and higher education research communities to develop those sources to build a firm foundation for an evolving energy future.

These opportunity areas were finalized after more than 100 hours of research, which included the review of successful community visioning exercises conducted in similar communities across the country, as well as past regional development reports, strategic plans and global and national trends.

More than 4,500 responses were reviewed from the bilingual, online survey launched last March. They were individually reviewed, analyzed and discussed.

Following the survey period, one-on-one interviews were conducted with about 30 community leaders by NewEdge Consulting, a Richland-based firm that has assisted in the project, as it has with Fortune 500 companies across the nation who have reinvented themselves by identifying specific opportunity areas to target for advancement.

After that, organizers convened a two-day “big vision workshop” with more than 40 community stakeholders to specifically identify and hone the opportunity list.

One big theme that seemed to underlie the six areas was the desire to keep Tri-City youths in the community and attract more young people and families to the area by improving and fine-tuning existing amenities and infrastructure. As many of the community experts who spoke at the event noted, if people can’t find what they need and want in their current community, they will look for it elsewhere and eventually move on.

Linnen said about a quarter of the survey respondents were youths, which emphasized the necessity of making this concern a consideration in all action plans.

Rather than be intimidated by the task before them, the Regional Affairs Committee has embraced the challenge of helping set in motion what will shape Tri-Cities’ next 10 years and beyond.

“I love a big, hairy audacious goal,” Linnen said. “I love something that is bold and compelling, that creates a little bit of tension, a little bit of angst. Something that is big. Something that is transformational. I think that it has motivated people around the world.”

Mike Schwenk, former chair of the Three Rivers Community Roundtable, added that there are a lot of things that have occurred in our community because we chose for them to occur.

Seeming to reinforce the words of these community leaders, the event included a performance by Tri-City Youth Choir’s Forte! group. They sang Pink’s “A Million Dreams,” from “The Greatest Showman” movie.

The next step for MyTri2030?

“The next phase is getting to a greater level of specificity,” Linnen said.

To get there, the MyTri2030 project has reopened its survey, this time seeking help from Tri-Citians to identify local people, organizations and projects currently underway that fall under the six key opportunity areas.

“It is critical that we get the right people in the room to decide, then prioritize specific initiatives for the future,” said Stephanie Swanberg, government and regional affairs director for the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The online survey can be completed at mytri2030.com/survey and will be open for about a month and a half.

Additionally, those who couldn’t make it to the luncheon may attend one of three MyTri2030 public information sessions in March.

Here’s the schedule:

• March 16: 11 a.m. to noon at Mid-Columbia Libraries’ Pasco branch.

• March 21: 7 to 8 p.m. at Mid-Columbia Libraries’ Keewaydin branch.

• March 28: 7 to 8 p.m. at the Richland Public Library.

By the end of 2019, the Regional Affairs Committee aims to have a final vision plan fully outlined and ready to be share with the public.

MyTri2030 Regional Vision Project: mytri2030.com; Facebook.

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