May you live in interesting times
As the old saying goes “May you live in interesting times.” No matter what your feelings are, we have been living in interesting times in our community because of the explosion of growth in recent years. In 1990 our population was less than 10K. Then came the Polaris Interchange in 1991, Bank One/Chase Center in 1994, and Polaris Fashion Place Mall in 2001. There is no doubt of the impact Polaris has had on southern Delaware county. Today the population of Orange is over 30K strong. That is one heck of a jump in less than 30 years. Growth means change and with change comes uncertainty and many unknowns. Leading change brings many challenges. However, change brings new opportunity and creative possibilities to help to realize full potential. It is up to the community leaders to adapt, realign and make certain that change is positive change.
In this era of growth we have suffered from consistent dysfunction within our Township government. If we can eliminate the dysfunction and reactive decision-making of the past and embrace the vision established by the community as an opportunity, we can change from living in interesting times to living in healthy, positive times. We have projects in the works that will be recognized for generations to come. It will truly be exciting for the township to share a common vision and work together to achieve that vision by taking advantage of every opportunity and overcoming every challenge. This again will take leadership, not only within the township government, but throughout the township by residents who care and are willing to make a positive contribution. The negativity and dysfunction can come to a close with rational, positive, and committed leaders. That doesn’t mean our leaders will always agree on everything, difference of opinions can produce positive results, but there must be a way to keep moving forward toward the common vision by working together. Personal beefs focused on individuals not issues produce nothing but negative tension. It’s time to turn over a new leaf.
This year, with input from our residents, we have updated our vision, realigned our goals, and created a clear implementation strategy going forward. The unknowns are being removed and a clear road forward has been paved. Now is the time to execute and take the next step forward. There are many things that make up the implementation strategy including timeframes, what parties are tasked with what responsibilities, and potential partners that can assist.
In moving forward in this journey there are four main themes I wish to focus on:
- Economic development
- A financial roadmap
I’ll be elaborating on each of these themes over time but will start with an overview.
A strong leader is someone who effectively communicates the shared vision, identifies opportunities, articulates the steps to achieve goals, and communicates and celebrates the victories along the way. A strong leader expects problems but adjusts priorities, celebrates milestones, and reviews progress along the way.
A shared vision is critical. The leaders must see it, pursue it, and help others to see it and to pursue it. No organization can push forward if the leaders do not agree on the “end in mind.”
Being a leader isn’t easy, and often requires difficult or even unpopular decisions to keep the organization on track to reach the desired goals. Leaders value people, surround themselves with strong competent people, and they develop other high-level leaders. Those who are inflexible, cling to the ways of the past, or stand in the way of progress can undo ultimate success. It’s up to the leaders to help elevate others and hold all accountable. Leadership is about helping others get to a better place – even if it means that some may need to take a back seat, or no seat at all.
Proactive means choosing. Reactive means losing. Only with strong leadership will consistent progress toward clear goals, within a positive culture occur.
We conducted a brand study in 2018 with a goal of defining our vision and solidifying our image. This week the official launch begins with the future in mind. This is part of a larger effort to improve communication and encourage economic development.
It’s not just about a logo or tagline — although keeping those things fresh and updated is important — it’s also about the way we communicate, the stories we tell, and how we consistently fulfill our brand promise. We need a strategy that grows our vision and empowers others to share in it.
Our 2018 Comprehensive Land Use plan was approved by the Board of Trustees in November. Branding was included in the plan which includes many layers and provides us with a blueprint for our community. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of our newly approved plan and how clearly it spells out our vision and necessary action steps.
Our economic development is the driver in diversifying our tax base and assisting with much needed infrastructure improvements. 2019 is going to be a big year for Orange with many projects becoming a reality while others will be beginning.
Part of economic development strategy is building relationships. It is important for our business community to connect and know its neighbors. We had a record attendance for our Business Appreciation breakfast in October and the momentum is carrying into this year. Bringing our businesses together is also part of building our brand identity.
I touched on the population growth from 1990 until now, but it’s equally amazing to look back and see how different we are today on the commercial side.
We’ve come a long way from the rural farming community we once were. Our endless choices for shopping, bursting subdivisions, an outstanding school system and strong sense of community define us as a unique and very attractive area for business.
A Financial Roadmap
The best-laid plans aren’t possible without the financial means to support them. We need to understand where we are financially to ensure that we make the best use of our resources and the best decisions for our community. We’ll be discussing where we want to be in five years, what types of businesses we want to attract, and trying to give the community everything it desires — all while being fiscally responsible.
As a community, we have so much to be proud of and thankful for. As we celebrate a new year, 2019 has the potential to be our most exciting and impactful year yet. I’m excited to work together with you to embrace our identity, implement our vision, and move our community forward in the coming year.