I-75 Corridor Council Strategic Plan

Flint Energies

I-75 Corridor Council
Strategic Planning Session
November 18, 2015
Flint Energies Member Center,
Warner Robins, GA
Georgia EMC Community & Economic Development Department
A Service of Flint Energies

On Wednesday, November 18, 2015 members of the I-75 Corridor Council met for a Strategic Planning Session at Flint Energies Member Center in Warner Robins, GA.  The meeting was facilitated by Pat Merritt, Carrie Barnes and Jim O’Bryan of Georgia EMC’s Community & Economic Development Department on behalf of Flint Energies.

Flint Energies Building - Warner Robins, Georgia


Welcome / Introduction of the Facilitators —Bob Ray

Participant Introductions with “One Word” to describe the corridor

Visioning Process – What’s our collective vision for the area and for this group?

Mission – What do we, as a group, do and who do we serve?

Priority Issues and Opportunities– What are the issues that will prevent you from accomplishing your Mission? What are the opportunities that you need to take advantage of?

Goals -What needs to be accomplished? Example: Identify who provides utilities to each willing seller’s tract of land.

Action Steps –How will the work be accomplished?


Jimmy Autry, Jill Bowen, Jay Flesher, Angie Gheesling, Mill Graves, Dollie Horton, Duke Lane, Gary Lee, Laura Mathis, Tom McMichael, Craig Mims, Martin Moseley, Sam Perren, Bob Ray, Carolyn Robbins, Robert Smith, BJ Walker, Melvin Walker

Introductions:  Please give us “One Word” to describe the I-75 Corridor:

Potential (x 3)

Opportunity (x 3)

Revenue (x 2)

Connectivity, Destination, Empty, Enhancements, Future, Growth, Ready, Rich, Tourists

Next, the participants were led on a brief guided visualization of the future and the positive impact that the I-75 Corridor Council had made on the region. They worked in small groups to listen for common themes and “Oh Wow’s” from each individual’s vision. Then, two volunteers, Laura Mathis and Jimmy Autry, were asked to work together to craft a Vision Statement for the I-75 Corridor Council as well as a Vision Statement for the I-75 Corridor. Their wordsmithing resulted in the following two Vision Statements. The complete listing of the Common Themes is included in the Appendix.

I-75 Corridor Council’s Vision

The Corridor Council’s vision is that each interchange offers expanded opportunities, connected in appearance and features, that celebrate how Middle Georgians live, work and play.


I-75 Corridor Vision

The creation of a visually-pleasing mixed use development plan for the I-75 Corridor; the plan meets the needs of residents and travelers, serving as a national model for cooperation.

Mission Statements:

Next, the participants were asked to develop Mission Statements in small groups. The Mission Statement would answer the questions: What do we, as a group, do and who do we serve?

Small Group Mission Statements:

“To partner, plan, promote and protect the interests and common goals associated with the resources and opportunities while communicating the vision of the I-75 corridor.”

“To promote and facilitate improvement and development to the I-75 corridor on behalf of the citizens of the middle Georgia area.”

“This group is organized to collaborate, cooperate, invest and execute a comprehensive plan to enhance economic growth and development opportunities for the I-75 corridor that will impact the lives of the people of our communities, state and nation.”

“Facilitate collaboration to promote continued vitality and viability as well as position the region as a destination gateway while serving the people of middle Georgia present and future.”

The following Mission Statement DRAFT was offered by the facilitators after reviewing the repeated key words from the four mission statements above. The participants were asked to “mull” on the DRAFT and re-examine it at a future meeting of the Council.

Mission Statement DRAFT

“The Mission of the I-75 Corridor Council is to facilitate collaboration and partnerships through a comprehensive master plan which promotes economic growth, community development and enhanced quality of life along the I-75 corridor for the citizens of middle Georgia.”

Then participants were asked to identify issues that would prevent them from achieving their mission as well as opportunities that should be acted upon. These issues and opportunities were listed and participants were give three sticky dots with which they were to vote on their top ranking issues and opportunities. The issues and opportunities follow with their respective votes.

Issues that could prevent us from reaching our mission and opportunities to be taken advantage of quickly (and their respective votes)

  1. Need for comprehensive coordinated and complementary zoning; clean slate, green field planning opportunity (12)
  2. Politics, trust, raising enthusiasm for change, stagnant leadership that has never left the county; lack of vision by the elected officials (11)
  3. Defining service-delivery districts and utility coordination and continuity (9)

The opportunity of the multiplier effect of coming together ($$$) (6)

Attitude for growth and progress by willing parties (5)

Unengaged private landowners-“tangled” multiple private owners (4)

The Economy (2)

The perception, history, internal and negative perception of middle Georgia (1)

Seizing opportunities for new markets (1)

Lack of exposure to new things, visionary, experiences (0)

Lack of funding (0)

Not all communities participating (0)

Infrastructure, an opportunity and also an issue (0)

Next, participants were asked to brainstorm goals to address the top three priority issues and opportunities. Small groups were once again employed for the goal refinement and identification of first steps, partners, resources and potential obstacles. The small group reports follow.

Goal 1a: Obtain existing zoning information and infrastructure capacities on each parcel from the respective governments


  1. Create subcommittees for each of the 3 priority goals
  2. Subcommittee members will call on all the utilities, planning and zoning, infrastructure providers (Finish this by February 2016)
  3. Input from service delivery sub-committee
  4. Get ED staff from each area to be meeting now; have priority recommendations by February 2016 –
  5. J. Walker, Angie Gheesling, Robert Smith and Gary Lee
  6. Start comprehensive master planning process (MGRC) July 1, 2016; conduct a gap analysis; look for funding (possibly Flint, GPC, etc.)

Goal 1b: Develop comprehensive, coordinated and complementary zoning


  1. Bring the parties together – decision makers, landowners, stakeholders
  2. Develop a plan for future use and development
  3. Master plan and everything follows
  4. Ask the Regional Commission to facilitate the master planning process
  5. Parties need the authority to make decisions
  6. Explore funding (grants) – state/federal/ RDLG
  7. Appoint committees from the Council – possibly by interstate interchange or define planning districts
  8. Create a timeline for measurable goals and objectives and milestones
  9. Look at existing- what is available now? (Existing industrial infrastructure)
  10. Compatible / complementary zoning
  11. Get respective economic development authority together now, start working and planning together
  12. “Easy Wins” – map existing utilities and infrastructure as a foundational document
  13. Jay Flesher has identified all of the owners of property within the corridor

Goal 2: Raise enthusiasm for change by building trust


  1. Obtain the services of a neutral facilitator
  2. Focus on “low hanging fruit” — the easy wins to build momentum
  3. Obtain objective data
  4. Develop a plan to maintain continued government communication I-75 Corridor Council

Strategic Planning Session

  1. Provide an educational component
  2. Obtain senior leadership buy-in (See Goal 3 below)
  3. Develop multiple conceptual designs that can be displayed and shared with leaders and stakeholders

Goal 3: Define service delivery districts


  1. Define the I-75 Corridor area (how many exits are included in the initial corridor area?)
  2. Identify property owners of each tract within the district (Jay Flesher has done)

(Regional Commission)

  1. Identify how each parcel of land is zoned
  2. Share information with every owner
  3. Identify brokers who represent property owners (Angie Gheesling and B.J. Walker)
  4. Inventory the utility services of the area – provide shared knowledge (Regional Commission)
  5. Do our homework: determine who is providing utility services to each tract of property within the corridor and the associated tax revenues, etc.

Goal 4: Obtain Senior Leadership Buy-In – Jill Bowen


  1. Build the case – make it uniform, consistent and robust, add visuals and examples from other communities via a Powerpoint Presentation
  2. Prepare senior leaders to reach all elected officials (brokers, landowners, media, etc.)
  3. Prepare representatives at this table to present the case – build in Q & A time
  4. Define the targeted segments of the public that we need to inform and receive feedback from
  5. Prepare / deliver our case to targeted segments of the public Following the small group presentations of the refined goals, the council decided to develop a meeting calendar for 2016, meeting on a Wednesday in the middle of the month, the same day each month, and they offered mid-January-February for the next meeting. To aid the progress of the group, each meeting agenda will include

the four goals with the three subcommittees reporting on major milestones and deadlines. Chairman Melvin Walker also requested the submission of names (2-3 from each city and county including planning and zoning officials) that would need to be involved in the process. The facilitators stated that they enjoyed working with council and would be happy to return in the future to provide further assistance.

The facilitators were thanked and the meeting was adjourned at 1:00 p.m.


Small Group Visions for the I-75 Corridor:

Common Themes:

  • The corridor is a Destination Draw – Russell Parkway and I-75
  • Hotels, shopping, condos, multi-family
  • Live, work and play
  • Hwy. 96 corridor being industrial
  • Comprehensive planning
  • Entertainment, museum (for kids and adults)
  • Landscaping along the interstate
  • Mixed use
  • We’re the “Gateway to Middle Georgia”
  • Retail development
  • Cohesive feel with other development
  • Russell Parkway is a mix of commercial and retail
  • Hwy. 96 – huge industries
  • Hotels and motels
  • Start over with hospital
  • This I-75 Corridor Council becomes a model that other states want to replicate
  • Great emphasis on education and improvements in workforce development
  • STEM education
  • Crossroads for travelers to FL
  • Connectivity
  • We CAN support mixed use
  • Capitalize on the resources we have
  • Business and Technology Park
  • Agritourism
  • Veteran’s Memorial
  • Updated landscaping / aesthetics
  • Family destination
  • New business
  • “Oh Wows”
  • A sense of pride about what we’ve done together
  • Creating an identity and brand as a gateway to middle Georgia
  • A Costco in Houston County!
  • Zero stripper billboards – all are removed /changed
  • Lots of similar visions
  • Counties without borders
  • New faces to “carry the torch”

Download a printable version hereI75 Corridor Council Retreat Summary 11-18-15