Chamber members

WINNSBORO-FRANKLIN Chamber of Commerce members write down advise and ideas to each subcommittee of the Winnsboro Economic Development Ready Community. Subcommittees were education, economic, parks and recreation, broadband and Telling Our Story. Each subcommittee has developed focus areas of improvement. For more information or how to help e-mail Carmen Sims at carmenrsims@gmail.com. (Sun photo by Monica Huff)

A group of motivated individuals have been regularly meeting to establish plans to move Franklin Parish forward in several focus areas. 

Winnsboro Economic Development Ready Community is comprised of concerned citizens, brainstorming ways to improve the area’s economic development, recreation, education, broadband access and marketing.

Carmen Sims, project manager for the group, met with members of the Winnsboro-Franklin Chamber of Commerce Feb. 12 to detail its main objectives.

“As a whole in the parish, people are wanting to work together,” Sims said. “All of these meetings and the people we have invited to these meetings have been positive. People want to make this the best place it can be.”

To establish its focus areas, the group performed a parish-wide questionnaire listing where participants ranked each subject one through 10 with one being weak and 10 being strong. More than 160 people took part in the survey.

“When we did the survey (Louisiana Economic Development) LED said if we could get a hundred (participants) that would be great because most communities get 15, 30, 40 results back,” Sims said. “Of that (number) we had 16 people send in information saying ‘I want to help in volunteering.’ This made us feel special.”

The survey found education, trained workforce, local infrastructure, broadband availability, lack of retail and restaurants, job creation and incomplete activity center as local weaknesses.

Additionally, the survey found quality of life, Delta Community College, La. Hwy 15, available land and buildings, leadership, utilities, Main Street Historic District, law enforcement, churches and its people as local strengths.

With information in hand, the group founded its focus areas. Each focus area is led by a sub-committee which has established goals and priorities for their assigned areas.

Education sub-committee priority is expanding opportunities, participation, access and quality of K12 and postsecondary systems.

Public awareness and marketing of Franklin Parish and detailing positive attributes to promote local business and attract new businesses is the priority for the economic development sub-committee.

Parks and recreation sub-committee have listed two priorities. First, organize and complete improvements on high use existing parks such as Wallace, Rollins and Landis parks. Second priority was develop a comprehensive plan to expand Civitan Park walking trail as a step towards helping Winnsboro become a walking and biking friendly community.

The priority of the broadband sub-committee is to bring the high speed internet service to the area for its businesses and residents.

Telling Our Story sub-committee priority is to raise public awareness and market the community along with the positive attributes to promote local business while attracting new business.

“We need everybody to get on board,” Sims said. “If there is some other group that you think we need their opinion or thoughts, we will be glad to reach out to them.”

For more information on how to help e-mail Sims at carmenrsims@gmail.com.

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