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City unveils strategy

By By Connie Nowlin Managing editor
A 5-year strategic plan for the development of Atmore was unveiled at city hall Wednesday.
The plan, more than a year in the making, was drawn up by Tom Latino at the direction of Mayor Howard Shell, the members of the city council and the Atmore Chamber of Commerce.
Latino called it " a living plan, one that can change and adapt." He went on to say that all strategic plans are blueprints, a roadmap of sorts, to where the town wants to be.
The work started with a series of town meetings, at which members of the community spoke about what they wanted for Atmore. That input was then prioritized by the public and the real work began.
The plan sets out a vision for the town, shows a set of finite goals, and a series of strategies for reaching the goals. The goals and strategies are what Latino called focused, realistic and flexible. There is also a set of benchmarks, specific actions with dates for accomplishment of those actions which allow for measurement of the success of the plan in concrete terms.
The strategic plan also outlined the town's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. One of the greatest obstacles to growth in the town, Latino said, was an image problem, both in the perception and the reality of the town.
To fix that image problem, the perception of Atmore outside the town will be addressed with a marketing plan, a CD-Rom to showcase the city, tradeshow material and assessment and enhancement of the city's Web site.
On a tangible level, the town will be cleaned and beautified and ordinances enforced.
Shell knows that the plan itself is not a quick fix for the problems that face Atmore and most small rural areas.
"I think this is a good first step," he said. "But everything is driven by finance. Some of these things we can't afford to do right now, and they will have to be modified. But we'll work on them one at a time."
And the program already has a lot of support in the community.
"There are already several organizations working on many of these strategies," said Emilie Mims, the executive director of the Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce.
The 5-year plan will be formally presented at the city council meeting at 4 p.m. Monday in city hall. It will have to be voted on and adopted before implementation can begin.