Conway Sets Course With 2035 Strategic Plan


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Thriving communities have certain things in common — successful job creation, quality of life for residents and visitors and, above all, a plan for making these things happen.

The Conway Area Chamber of Commerce is leading a strategic process to develop a long-range plan for the city’s future. In late summer of 2020, the Chamber sought public input through an anonymous survey to identify priorities for the city to address as it moves forward.

The 1,838 responses marked a 31% participation increase over the 2010 effort that led to the Conway2025 strategic plan. After sifting through the survey results, the Chamber steering committee identified 14 priorities for the Conway 2035 plan that it grouped into two categories, “People” and “Places.”

The Winthrop Rockefeller Institute has facilitated a series of community meetings to aid in the development of the plan.

“The Conway Chamber had a lot of data from citizens, a need to digest it and a way to turn that data into a plan,” said Rockefeller Institute Executive Director and CEO Marta Loyd. “They engaged the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute because of our unique facilitation process, called the ‘Rockefeller Ethic.’

“The Institute brings people with a diverse set of opinions together to engage in respectful dialogue and collaborative problem solving that results in transformational change.”

Especially encouraging for the success of the Conway 2035 strategic plan is the fact that 662 survey participants were willing to volunteer to help bring the plan to life, nearly double the number who signed up in 2010.

People

The city’s efforts will focus on arts, entertainment and culture; diversity, belonging, equity and inclusion; PreK-12 education; job creation; poverty and homelessness; public safety and small business and entrepreneurship.

Places

Conway’s livability priorities include beautification, bicycle paths and trails, the downtown business district, land use and planning, parks and recreation, public transportation and streets, sidewalks and drainage.

Volunteers

The spirit of volunteerism that followed the survey led to more than 200 residents committing more than 1,000 hours of their time to serve on 14 sector committees to address ways for Conway to achieve its vision for making the 14 priorities a reality.

From November 2020 to March 2021, the committees held four, two-hour Zoom meetings in which each committee produced a vision statement, crafted 10 goals to move Conway closer to that vision, and suggested five ways to involve both local businesses/organizations and individuals/families.
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The Summit

The organizational efforts culminated in the two-day “Vision Summit Conway 2035” held April 20-21 at the Rockefeller Institute for the purpose of reviewing the committees’ work. The summit involved 50 leaders from around the city who met to help identify partners needed to achieve the Conway 2035 goals, find collaboration opportunities between organizations, as well as identify redundancies among the plans and form an order in which the goals can be completed.

“Our process was a good fit for the Chamber and we’re pleased we could work together on this ambitious vision for 2035,” Loyd said. “We’re inspired by the work of all involved and are confident the city and the Chamber will take seriously the goals their citizens have set for the next 15 years.”