FY21-23 Gaston County Strategic Plan
Gaston County’s first ever strategic plan was drafted between October of 2020 and March of 2021. The plan will be the County’s roadmap for fiscal years 2022 and 2023, and the vision, mission, and core values will sustain the organization far into the future.
The County’s mission describes the fundamental purpose of Gaston County Government—to provide excellent public service every day. By embodying its mission every single day, the County moves closer toward achieving its vision for the future. The vision statement is a bold declaration if intention for the future and is the anticipated outcome of a long-lived strategic planning process.
PROVIDING EXCELLENT PUBLIC SERVICE EVERY DAY.
Gaston County Government will be a model of excellence in public service leadership, innovation, collaboration and inclusion, ensuring the safety and well-being of residents, preserving natural resources and providing recreational, cultural and economic opportunities that lead to global success and set the stage for future generations.
We Value People.
We Value County Employees.
We Value Relationships.
We Value Quality and Creativity.
We Value Our Resources and Resiliency.
Belmont Abbey Baseball
Webb Custom Kitchen by Mike McIntyre
Crowders Mountain Peak
Belmont City Hall by Mike McIntyre
Paddleboarding at US National Whitewater Center
Jenn Phillips Photography Butterfly and Flower
Camelot Meadows Bamboo Forest by Bob Mulholland
From Strategy to Action
The County’s strategic plan guides how decisions are made, establishes a vision for long-term planning, and creates a strategic foundation that impacts service delivery. Through a collaborative development process, the County identified goals for performance, which are grouped into three strategic focus areas. Goals are designed to be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Each goal is assigned to a County department, which is responsible for carrying out or more associated initiatives and reporting metrics on a regular basis. These metrics enable County leadership to evaluate progress towards strategic goals, which will inform the County’s approach to performance management and continuous improvement in years to come.
The County will begin reporting on performance metrics in February 2022. Thereafter, performance metrics will be reported and analyzed biannually, each August and February. The following section summarizes the County’s strategic goals and associated performance targets for each of the three focus areas.
- cOMMUNITY hEALTH, sAFETY, AND wELL-BEING
- eCONOMIC dEVELOPMENT AND pLANNED gROWTH
- rECREATIONAL, cULTURAL, AND lIFE-LONG lEARNING oPPORTUNITIES
Gaston County residents rely on services provided by the county to keep them safe, provide emergency medical transport, support their health, and connect them to other services.
C1: Ensure that safety, health, and social services are responsive, equitable, and customer-focused.
Gaston County looks for ways to continuously improve its service delivery. Timeliness of response is a crucial goal for departments delivering safety, health, and social services. By analyzing best practices from other organizations and paying attention to customer feedback, departments will hone their ability to serve the community with compassion and fairness.
- Monitor and analyze responsiveness to 911 emergency calls and ensure excellent response to citizen needs at the most critical times.
- Improve the availability and timeliness of Emergency Medical Services ambulance response by working with CaroMont Regional Medical Center to reduce the time needed to transfer a patient and initiate care.
- Recruit, hire, and retain employees that reflect the diverse population of the community they serve.
C2: Foster a culture of healthy living in Gaston County.
Achieving a “culture of healthy living” means that every county resident has the opportunity to be as healthy as possible. Recognizing the differing health challenges that residents may face – due to factors such as pre-existing conditions, socio-economic status, risk factors, living conditions and life experiences – is crucial to providing services in an equitable way.
- Provide effective health education by understanding diverse languages and cultures and adapting services so that residents understand and accept assistance.
- Increase access to healthy food options, nutrition education, and safe, accessible areas for physical activity and exercise.
C3: Improve access to and coordination of services for a diverse community, including the vulnerable and marginalized.
By paying close attention to demographic changes in the community, and by continuously communicating with each other about changes in demand for services, County departments can position themselves to adapt and innovate so that their services are most accessible and best suited to the people they serve.
- Collaborate across departments to understand changes in the demographics of the county, especially at-risk populations, and address the needs of residents.
- Re-imagine the time, place, and manner of service delivery to take services where they are needed rather than always requiring residents to come to County facilities.
As part of a fast-growing and economically vibrant metropolitan region, Gaston County has an opportunity to anticipate and plan for change in ways that maximize benefits of growth for the county’s residents and businesses.
E1: Prepare Gaston County for accelerating growth and development through effective communication and collaboration.
Collaboration among local governments, planning agencies, and business organizations is crucial for a coordinated response to growth and development. Communicating to the public about the opportunities and challenges of growth will help the County and its partners to respond in ways that are equitable and sustainable.
- Expand or establish opportunities for Gaston County and its partners to collaborate regarding shared economic development interests and initiatives, and communicate consistently with the public.
- Overhaul the County’s website to function as an effective clearinghouse that effectively engages current and potential residents and businesses.
- Engage with community partners to develop a 2040 Vision for Gaston County and create a Community Data Dashboard.
E2: Grow and diversify the economy in ways that broaden the tax base and provide sustainable employment and economic mobility for residents.
Gaston County Government will work to attract a variety of new businesses to the county and support the growth of existing businesses. When businesses are successful, they create job opportunities for county residents. By gaining work experience, residents may increase their earning potential.
- Analyze average wages by sector in Gaston County to inform industry recruitment and track wage growth.
- Collaborate with community partners on workforce development and job preparation classes for historically underserved populations.
- Educate residents on the County’s property assessment, taxation, and tax savings programs through public outreach and engagement.
E3: Actively support land development and county-wide planning programs to ensure that water, sewer and other essential infrastructure are available to meet the needs for future growth.
The availability of public services and infrastructure is a vital foundation for maximizing the beneftis and avoiding the challenges that come with growth and development. The County will work with its municipal, state, and federal partners to plan effectively.
- Refine the County’s ability to provide public facilities and service delivery through proactive planning, infrastructure studies and facility needs assessments.
- Complete key County public capital infrastructure projects on time and within budget.
- Issue school bonds and manage debt to maximize the impact of school construction and renovation efforts.
- Improve, streamline, and consolidate County processes to improve the experience of customers seeking regulatory approval for land development and construction projects.
Gaston County boasts a wealth of opportunities for outdoor recreation in parks, along trails, and in the water, for sites of historic and artistic interest, and for personal enrichment, growth, and continuous learning. Preservation and enhancement of these assets create quality of life for residents and maintain the appeal of Gaston County as a great place for people of all ages and for businesses making investment decisions.
R1: Improve access, connectivity, and inclusivity for recreational, cultural, personal enrichment, and learning opportunities.
The ability of all residents and visitors to easily access and enjoy county amenities increases the value of the amenities to the community. Trail connectivity, including linkages with parks and natural areas, is growing in importance, and Gaston County is fortunate to be part of the Carolina Thread Trail network which promises to make many connections inside and outside of the county. Ensuring that all county residents feel included and see their heritage reflected in cultural offerings is an important consideration for a growing county.
- Evaluate facilities, communications, personnel, and cultural and educational programs, with a goal of identifying and removing barriers to access and increasing appeal to a diverse audience.
- Prioritize access and availability for underserved communities when developing park, cultural, educational, and enrichment programs and plans.
R2: Promote enjoyment of Gaston County’s diverse historic, artistic, recreational and natural resource assets.
Creativity in programming, communication, and marketing will boost resident’s enjoyment and appreciation of the county’s assets.
- Collect and preserve the county’s historic artifacts and archives and provide a research center so that residents can access these items.
- Reimagine programs and access to historic, artistic, recreational, and natural resource programming, exploring partnerships among County departments, non-profits, and other local governments.
- Increase cross-departmental and community collaborations to expand access, programming, and visibility of all County assets.
R3: Balance development with the preservation and enhancement of natural, historical, agricultural, and cultural resources.
As Gaston County prepares for continued economic and residential growth, the preservation and enhancement of resources and amenities will be kept in mind. This mindfulness will enable ongoing cycles of growth and development as potential investors and residents seek locations with a robust quality of life.
- Coordinate with community partners to identify and digitally catalog historic structures and sites, public art installations, and significant natural areas so that information is readily available for educational initiatives, nomination or designation opportunities, preservation projects, and use by the public.
- Partner with land preservation groups to acquire and preserve significant tracts of land to be used for recreational, water quality and environmental protection purposes.