Manager’s Message: Advancing New Hanover County’s Strategic Priorities
By County Manager Chris Coudriet
The need to plan for the county’s future, to create a road map for setting measurable targets and achieving them, is the basis for New Hanover County’s strategic planning.
This past January, the Board of Commissioners adopted the county’s 2018-2023 Strategic Plan. This new plan advances the board’s priorities and builds on the success of our first strategic plan, which was implemented from 2012 until 2017.
Our community has changed over the past five years and new issues and opportunities have been identified. So, this updated strategic plan sets new goals that will guide the work of New Hanover County forward over the course of the next five years.
The strategic plan was informed by the wisdom of our leadership and the expertise of numerous community partners and county staff. It honors the direction of the board and ensures that the county’s goals are aligned with the community’s expectations.
This plan is not a book that will sit on a shelf. It is a living guide for each county employee to use as we improve programs, create better efficiencies and develop effective partnerships. When we all work together with clear outcomes that we are moving forward, then success will follow.
For example, one of the county’s strategic priorities is “Intelligent Growth and Economic Development.” As a target, the county will be focused on increasing the tax base by $3 billion by creating an environment for the private sector to thrive.
We also want to ensure continued growth and economic mobility for everyone in the county. With the right policy orientation and the right environment, the target is 6,500 new, traded-sector jobs and competitive jobs that pay more than 6.5 percent above the county’s living wage.
Through public investments and encouraging support services in current and future developments, the county will also further the creation of complete communities that meet the basic needs of residents within a mile of where they live. This concept was adopted as part of the county’s Comprehensive Plan and will be carried out over the next five years.
Another strategic priority is “Superior Education and Workforce.” The county will be strengthening opportunities for education to ensure our kids are successful, with a target that 75 percent of children are ready for kindergarten and 90 percent of third graders can read proficiently at reading level. That will take collaborative partnerships with our school system and community resources to ensure our children are equipped to succeed.
We want businesses to stay, start and expand in our county, and that means making sure we have a skilled workforce. Collaborative business, community and educational partnerships, including strategic talent development, will help ensure the success of our families and our workforce.
The county’s third strategic priority is “Superior Public Health and Safety.” We want to meet people where they are to provide them with the tools to reach their own health goals. So, over the next five years, the county will increase access to nutritious foods, opportunities for physical activity and health education for citizens at higher risk for obesity.
Something our community is all too familiar with is the opioid crisis. New Hanover County has already taken a proactive role in helping to reduce opioid abuse, but over the next five years, we will do much more. The county’s goal, with the collaboration of our community partners, is to decrease opioid-related deaths by 100 percent and opioid-related overdoses by 50 percent. We want to help save lives and save families.
To ensure we are able to accomplish our goals, the county will maintain our motto of “good governance” through fiscal discipline and proactive management. We will continue to hire people committed to public service, who are focused, disciplined, innovative and agile. This will ensure we have a strong foundation focused on the customer experience and the long-term well-being of this community.
This new strategic plan will guide the county to meet the outcomes the board and community expect. Over the next five years, the county’s policy choices will support our targets. There will be more collaboration among the public and private sectors to bring greater economic opportunity to our region. And the county will work every day to make our community safer, healthier and more secure.
I invite you to take a more in-depth look at New Hanover County’s 2018-2023 Strategic Plan here.