MATTHEWS – Back in 2012, Charlotte, Mecklenburg County and the Foundation for the Carolinas got together and started the Mecklenburg Livable Communities Plan to meet the demands of projected growth in the metropolitan area.
When the MLCP started, it was projected that the area would add one million more residents by 2050. That projection has been adjusted in recent years to one million new residents by 2030.
The group changed its name to Livable Meck several years ago. The partnership now includes the other six municipalities in the county, as well as 130 private businesses, nonprofits, neighborhood associations and other groups that will work to leverage resources to meet growing demand while avoiding duplication.
“Other communities have plans and initiatives. There were over 200 community plans, growth plans,” said Rebecca Herbert, community engagement and strategy manager for Livable Meck. “Hospitals had plans, towns had plans but there was not one unified plan. That is the goal of Livable Meck, a community-wide plan that will protect and enrich the quality of life. Where are we growing and where are we going?”
Livable Meck led an hour-long workshop Feb. 19 at the Matthews Chamber of Commerce’s Greater Matthews Business Expo to engage with chamber members and residents.
A progress report released in early 2018 established seven guiding principles — Welcoming, Innovative, Connected, Inclusive, Prepared, Healthy and Resilient — and 21 strategies to achieve those principles that will serve as a collective road map to the future. The full report can be found at www.livablemeck.com.
“We are going to have more folks on the road, more folks at Harris Teeter, more folks looking for jobs, more folks looking to buy houses,” Herbert said. “There is a need for a community-wide plan, and that is what we are trying to fulfill. That plan guides our work. We are aspiring to be an engagement infrastructure. Livable Meck connects all of our partners to do good things.”
Herbert said Livable Meck is revisiting its plan with a Voice of the Community program that asks residents what is important to them. The program started late last summer and will run through April. It includes a series of focus groups, online surveys and other engagement opportunities like the expo workshop.
Herbert said they have engaged more than 1,400 people since August, and hope to engage at least 3,000 people.
“At the end of this process, it won’t be statistically significant but it will be representative,” she said.
Herbert engaged workshop participants on what is important to “you?”
One participant said having “affordable” communities to live in was important. Another said the area’s quality of life would be enhanced by having a Major League Baseball team call Charlotte home. Another said the area needs better roads and more public transit. Having good medical facilities and living in safe communities were also mentioned among the many responses.
“There is a lot of energy around affordable,” Herbert said. “That is also what we are hearing, and not in order, affordability, transportation and mental health are the three highest. And that is all around, in Matthews, Pineville, Uptown, across Mecklenburg County.”
Herbert said Livable Meck will continue to host forums to get more input and present the feedback to community partners in September.