York County set to prepare strategic plan

Matt Enright
York Dispatch
York County Administrative Center in York City, Wednesday, June 17, 2020. Dawn J. Sagert photo

For the first time in its history, York County is working on a strategic plan.

After the York County Board of Commissioners approved 3-0 a contract with Harrisburg-based Wakeen & Co. for $30,250 at its May 5 meeting, the county has been working to complete internal studies and prepare for public input.

"This is something that we've been discussing for a while," President Commissioner Julie Wheeler said Wednesday. "When you look at York County government, it's one of the ... largest employers in the community, with over 2,200 employees. Most large employers like that do have some sort of plan." 

While the county has a comprehensive plan that focuses on topics such as infrastructure and housing, and it has an economic action plan, Wheeler said the strategic plan would allow members of the public to make comments on what the county government should be doing. 

"The Planning Commission is eager to undertake this work to improve our community, our services and our future. We thank the commissioners for the opportunity to be part of this important process,” Felicia Dell, director of the York County Planning Commission, said in a county news release.

Wheeler said it's important to have a plan and to get it done collectively, both through the lens of York County government and through the eyes of the community.

"I'm excited that we're going to be partnering with our colleagues in the Planning Commission," she said of the commission, which will act as the project manager. 

Community input is key to the plan. Wheeler said the goal is to find "pillars" of interest in the community to work on as a county, then to create action plans around those pillars. This plan will be evaluated on a regular basis and made into a "living document," meaning it can be evaluated and changed if priorities shift. 

While she didn't want to influence what the pillars were, Wheeler said gun violence and poverty were examples of things that could be addressed. "We want to hear from the community." 

Wakeen & Co., Wheeler said, had been vetted by the Planning Commission along with several other vendors. What county officials liked about the company was its creative and innovative approach to strategic planning, including techniques used to better understand the language used in the workplace. 

The target time for the plan to be completed is before Thanksgiving, which officials said gives a buffer to the end of the year for any necessary extensions.