Group unveils strategies for county’s future |


EFFINGHAM — Promoting a Vision for Effingham County unveiled bold new strategies for the county’s parks, workforce, housing development and much more as members of the group hosted an ice cream social at the Effingham Event Center Sunday.

PAVE unveiled its “Mapping the Future of Effingham” action plan, which is aimed at achieving five different goals to improve the county’s workforce, housing, child care, entertainment and parks as it continues to grow. Separate booths at the ice cream social provided attendees with information on the different strategies being used to achieve the goals laid out by the group.

Effingham County Chamber Board Vice President Austin Cheney said the group’s workforce education plan is meant to expand the county’s trade programs to residents who are too young or too old to benefit from classes provided mostly to high school students. Included in this strategy is a plan to add robotics programs to schools for younger children.

“We’ve talked about longer-term type things like having some kind of a hands-on science museum, kids museum,” said Cheney.

Cheney said they have already been working to expand trade services to reach younger students with the Benchworx project, which invites young people onto a portable trailer where they can learn woodworking.

He said the action team hopes to integrate more trade programs into schools rather than only providing them outside of the classroom.

Additionally, Cheney said the action team is considering a mentorship program for residents who are trying to get back into the workforce.

The action team’s goal to bring more entertainment to Effingham is primarily directed at renovating the Heart Theater.

Ashley Dillingham, who works at HSHS St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital, said they don’t have any concrete plans for the theater, but they are currently figuring out what the process will look like.

“We’re still in the very early stages right now so we don’t have specifics but the goal is to restore it to its original glory,” Dillingham said. “There’s been a lot of talk about doing this over the years. I think that this has given us the right momentum and the right people to do it.”

Also at the event Sunday, President and CEO of the Effingham Regional Growth Alliance and Chairman of the Effingham County Child Care Committee Courtney Yockey described the action team’s strategy for meeting their child care goals for the county, which includes researching the need for child care in the county and encouraging local businesses to open child care facilities for the children of employees.

Yockey explained the goal is not to create entirely new programs but provide support to the child care services in the county and allow them to grow.

“Primarily, we recognize that we don’t want to duplicate services.

But in addition to promoting and advocating for the programs and the items that are coming from that committee (Effingham County Child Care Research Committee), we’re also working to try to provide a clearinghouse for qualified child care workers,” Yockey said.

Yockey also said the action team intends to explore options for county child care services that would take the strain off of some existing child care centers.

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