Halifax eyes ‘game-changing’ blueprint for future
When Halifax County looks at its future, its top priority for economic development might be a little surprising.
The No. 1 goal listed in the county’s newly released Community Strategic Plan is building a modern high school that prepares students for the 21st-century workforce. The plan also recommends aligning the school’s curriculum with the needs of local businesses.
“That is what we need for economic development: retention and recruitment of young professionals,” says Mitzi McCormick, president and CEO of the Halifax County Chamber of Commerce. “We want to have a pipeline of future workers.”
During this year’s General Assembly session, Del. James Edmunds, R-Halifax County, introduced legislation to allow a local referendum on an optional county sales tax that would benefit the Halifax school system. House Bill 1634, which authorizes the county to impose an additional tax at a rate not to exceed 1%, passed the state House and Senate and will be on the ballot for consideration by county voters in November.
“The one-penny increase will generate nearly $3.5 million a year that would be used toward the schools. That is game changing,” McCormick says.
Increasing local broadband internet access is also a priority in the plan, she says. “We need to make sure it’s readily available to all parts of our county.”
Halifax’s strategic plan contains 11 key initiatives that “hit on workforce, economic and community development. From our perspective it’s a proactive and holistic strategy,” says Matt DeVeau, project manager for Atlanta-based Market Street Services, the community and economic development firm that developed the plan as well as the county’s earlier Vision 2020 plan.
The community is rallying around the new plan, McCormick says, adding, “This is the first time I have felt the community coming together, and I am very excited about that.”
The initiatives will be implemented in phases. “Some of these things may start on a smaller basis,” she says. “We are not tackling every single thing at the same time.”