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Implementation of Thomasville's 'EnVision 2020' begins


By Darrick Ignasiak
The Dispatch

Published: Thursday, August 18, 2011 at 5:06 p.m.


THOMASVILLE | Lance Hammond, while impersonating Rocky Balboa, said he felt the energy from the community leaders gathered for the annual State of the City and County event at the Colonial Country Club on Thursday.


"I've got one thing to say," said Hammond, wearing boxing gloves and a robe as he entertained a group of City of Thomasville and Davidson County officials. "I can feel the passion in this room. You can do it."


The event, sponsored by North State Communications and hosted by the Thomasville Area Chamber of Commerce, served multiple purposes. It allowed for the kickoff for the implementation of the chamber's EnVision 2020 plan, as well as the keynote addresses of Thomasville Mayor Joe Bennett and Davidson County Board of Commissioners' Chairman Sam Watford.


EnVision 2020 is a the result of a nearly yearlong visioning and strategic planning process initiated by the chamber. Members of a planning committee conducted community services, retreats and a couple of town hall meetings to gain feedback on what the community wanted the Chair City's future to be


Goals in the EnVision 2020 study include improving the appearance of entryways and main corridors, creating an entrepreneur-friendly, attractive downtown area, establishing new uses for former industrial properties, improving the appearance of housing and public recreational areas, establishing a brand and creating a marketing program by creating a marketing director position and aligning tourism efforts with a new marketing plan, enhancing and promoting a strong sense of community among residents of the Thomasville area. Other goals include creating usable industrial sites, utilizing existing commercial and retail business space, encouraging entrepreneurial activity and building a skilled workforce in the future.


Doug Croft, president of the Thomasville Area Chamber of Commerce, announced a new 14-member implementation task force for the EnVision 2020 plan. The members are Tommy Hodges, Tony Hyde, Hope Surratt, Philip Young, Raleigh York Jr., Dr. David Williams, Wayne Herrick, Scott Styers, Kelly Craver, Keith Tobin, Marc Goodman, Jane Wilder, Croft and Dr. Christian Brandyberry


"These guys are going to push a few buttons and a twist a few arms," Croft said of the new committee. "These guys are going to be all engaged. We are moving forward. I would say this fall we are stepping forward. 2020 is not here, so we are not going to wave the magic wand and change the world. We are going to attack these goals."


Prior to the announcement of the new committee, Watford updated the status of the state of the county. He listed the county's recent economic bright spots, including the recent additions of TIMCO Aerosystems in Wallburg and the Save-A-Lot distribution center in the Lexington Business Center.


"Both projects came with considerable up-front costs to the county, but they will be huge partners in our future," Watford said.


Watford also made comments on the recent controversy concerning the Davidson County Animal Shelter's use of a gas chamber to euthanize animals.


"I am extremely proud of the staff and their operation of the Davidson County Animal Shelter," he said. "I, along with all of my six colleagues, have witnessed firsthand both of the euthanizing processes that they use. We actually went over there, all seven of us. We are making an effort to move forward, with the cooperation of the sheriff's office, with lethal injections in a practical and economical matter."


Watford and Bennett, who presented the state of Thomasville, both made comments that new-home starts have decreased drastically in Thomasville and Davidson County in the last few years. Watford said residential construction is a large portion of the local economy and remains in a major slump. Bennett said the City of Thomasville had 103 new home starts in 2008, 56 in 2009, 41 in 2010 and 19 so far this year.


Bennett offered hope for the City of Thomasville and Davidson County concerning the municipality and county's future


"I believe as we come back, and we will come back, we are going to be a different city as we were prior to manufacturing and furniture," the mayor said. " By working together, we can and will make it happen."


Darrick Ignasiak can be reached at 249-3981, ext. 217, or at darrick.ignasiak@the-dispatch.com.

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