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More than 200 LaGrange County residents attended the Listen, Learn, & Launch Open House events in mid-September to share their hopes, concerns, and vision for the future of their communities. The LaGrange County Together leadership team hosted these events at six different locations across the county to ensure a wide demographic and geographic representation. The planning team also conducted stakeholder interviews with approximately 20 individuals and four groups to further broaden participation in the process. Residents from the lakes, towns, and unincorporated areas attended the open houses, as well as members of the Amish community, students, business owners, farmers, healthcare professionals, and many others. The online Community Survey will also be available until the end of October so that anyone who did not have the opportunity to attend an open house may offer their feedback as well.

During the open house events, participants were invited to browse display boards posted around the room, beginning with a set of key findings from the planning team’s initial research. Next, community members continued through a series of self-guided activities where they could share their feedback and browse the comments of previous participants. The activities included sharing about what makes participants optimistic or concerned about the future of their community; identifying “strong” and “opportunity” places throughout the county; and selecting which potential outcomes of the planning process would have the most transformative impact on the community. Finally, participants were given an Exit Questionnaire with basic demographic questions so that the planning team can identify who we’ve heard from and whether there are key groups that still need to be engaged through a more targeted approach. Identical activities are available online through the end of October.

Based on the feedback from this first round of public engagement combined with the findings of the technical research, the planning team will begin to formulate the draft vision, goals, and objectives for the Comprehensive Plan. The second round of public engagement, which will occur in early 2022, will then test these draft recommendations with the community to ensure that the perspective and concerns of the people of LaGrange County are reflected in the final plan.

Stay tuned for a complete summary memo of the first round of public engagement, and please feel free to share your thoughts in the Community Survey if you haven’t already!