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East Tennessee Quality Growth: looks ahead for the future

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By Charlotte Underwood

In a world constantly changing and growing, many counties in East Tennessee are beginning to map out a plan for the future; a plan known as quality growth.

East Tennessee Quality Growth is a new program encompassing the 16 county region that comprises East Tennessee.

Bill Claiborne and Fred Cole are Campbell County’s representatives on the board.

After attending a regional workshop to launch the program, Claiborne and Cole brought ideas back to the county in the hopes of spreading the importance of quality growth.

Quality growth is growth that doesn’t compromise the unique East Tennessee quality of life; it means balancing the needs of the economy, the environment and the communities, according to Cole.

“It all starts with trying to create a vision of where you want to go as a county and how you want your communities to be in the next 10 to 15 years,” said Cole. He explained everything was impacted by growth and population.

“Things can grow according to sprawl if no thought is put into growth,” said Claiborne. He feels quality growth is more of an empowering tool for the people, if developed into the proper forum.

“There needs to be a place where the ideas can be heard, where the people of Campbell County can imagine what they see for their communities, their futures, or else it will just fall into powers outside their hands,” said Claiborne.

Both men believe it will have to be a grass roots type campaign with members of the community stepping together to raise their own levels of understanding and awareness.

“I, personally think we need to go through a community visioning process, such as some of the other counties have, to come up with a plan on how we want to be in the future. If we don’t, we will just continue to react,” said Cole. He hopes to have organizations like the chamber of commerce, along with the local government involved in the process.

“Of course once it gets going, it’s the people, really who have to keep it going and make it go where they want it to,” Cole said.

“If the people will come out in the community and express what growth they want, what they want their community to be like, then the politicians will follow the will of the people,” added Claiborne.

“We already live in a wonderful area, but we also realize we have to have practical aspects of economic growth. The hurtle is how do we meet our energy demands and the demands for industrial growth,” said Claiborne. He believes getting the program started is a matter of individuals working in their own spheres of influence.

“I am confident that with more information and education, people will develop their own ideas and find their own way,” said Claiborne.

“This is an opportunity for us to mobilize and get started,” said Cole.

Both Cole and Claiborne are hopeful the community will get behind this program and work to influence a future plan for the county.

Anyone interested in helping can contact Claiborne via email at WFC83197@aol.com, or contact Cole by calling 494-7590. For more information regarding quality growth and what it means to East Tennessee, visit http://etqg.org.