Collaboration is Focus as 2020 Begins

 In Business Development, City Growth, City Leadership, City Planning

By Mayor Mike Ley

I like to pick a word for the year and, for 2020, I chose “collaboration.” It seems appropriate as I step into my first full week as Mayor of Auburn. It is my hope, however, that this word will extend far beyond my first year in office.

To build the Auburn we envision for now and the future, we must create an environment of collaboration. We must work together in new ways, form new partnerships and consider new solutions and investments. For me, listening is at the core of collaboration. Over the years, I’ve found I’m most successful when I begin by hearing what others have to share. I listen and ask questions. And then I consider what I learned and do any necessary research before acting on it. With so many great visionaries and leaders in this community, I think we’ll be most successful as a city… a county stakeholder… and a community if we take the same approach and focus on building collaboration across various groups.

You may agree in theory but wonder what collaboration looks like in reality. Let me give you a few examples of how I see it playing out.

County-wide Collaboration
Just before the end of the year, I attended the City of Butler’s City Council meeting with now Mayor Hartman, as well as the City of Garrett’s City Council with Mayor Fiandt. It is important for us to be aware of the opportunities and challenges in each other’s cities as we work together for the greater good of DeKalb County. All of the cities count on the county, and vice versa. DeKalb County is in an unprecedented time of population growth, and we need a collaborative approach to planning and managing that growth in the short- and long-term. With Auburn in the center, we’re in a prime spot to be an integral part of the solutions and future investments.

Business Collaboration
Recent reports indicate that Northeast Indiana is short more than 16,000 housing units. With a growing demand for residential options, we expect to see a lot of development in the coming years. Yet, that development can’t happen without private developers. Our city and region are ripe for development, and I believe Auburn can be a key facilitator of the growth. For example, we may be able to provide assistance with necessary utility support to area businesses and subdivisions.

City Department Collaboration
Much of the time, city work happens across multiple departments. A project may originate from one department—Building, Planning and Development (BPD), for example—but also include input and cooperation from others, such as Engineering, Water Department or Auburn Electric. That will certainly be the case with one of our top priorities heading into 2020: A new comprehensive master plan. The city’s current plan dates back to the 1980s, so we’re excited to create a new roadmap for Auburn development for the coming years. Our plan will be a forward-looking one that aims to preserve high development standards, quality of life and a vision for the future.

2020 will also see departments partnering together to create two other important plans:

  • 5-year street and thoroughfare plan, which outlines local streets in need of improvement
  • 10-year capital improvement plan, which outlines the timing and financing of community capital improvements over the next decade

Community Collaboration
The comprehensive plan is also an example of how we plan to collaborate with the public. BPD will host pubic callouts to engage the community in this process. Another way we hope to collaborate within the community is through a city-wide movement. A small but growing group of Auburn leaders—representing government, education, healthcare, businesses and faith-based organizations—are banding together to address systemic issues facing our community—issues like addiction, poverty and homelessness.

You might say another word for collaboration is teamwork. I believe we have a great team assembled through various county, business, city and community stakeholders. I’m confident that, together, we’ll find new ways to make this community that we all love even stronger and more vibrant—for many years to come.

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