A group is forming to plan for the future of Salem and Fulton County, said Salem Chamber of Commerce President Gary Phillips. The group has named itself Salem 2020 to imply a clear vision for the future, said Phillips.
The core group is made up of members of the Salem Chamber of Commerce and Salem Industrial Development Council. They have also included members of the Fulton County Quorum Court and Salem City Council.
Salem 2020 hopes to reach out to active civic groups and businesses interested in the development of the area.
Phillips said the goal is to develop a plan for controlled and directed growth that will preserve the beauty and rural culture of the area, yet encourage economic and educational development and improve quality of life.
Salem 2020 is a strategic planning group that is evaluating what the group wants the area to look like in the future, Phillips added.
They will research which kinds of businesses would be interested in relocating to the area, he said. The group will also study what role agriculture will play in the future.
Phillips said, "Sadly we are exporting our most valuable resource, our children. A motivating factor for me is the hope that someday my children could live here. If they go away to college, it is hard to get them to come back because there are so few jobs that pay well enough. If we can bring in industry that has these jobs it will help everyone."
Building partnerships in neighboring communities is another goal the group has set.
They are reviewing what steps need to be taken to bring manufacturing plants to the area, he said.
Phillips said he doesn't know of any organization which has tracked which businesses have opened or closed.
He said the group is also checking into additional grocery stores and restaurants.
Salem 2020 will not meet again until after the holiday. Meetings are slated at the Salem Welcome Center the first Tuesday of each month, January through March, at 5:30 p.m.
Plans for further meetings will be discussed at the March meeting.
For further information or to be placed on a call list, contact Phillips at 870-895-5165 or Hans Oliver at 870-895-3221.