Hillsboro: Vibrant city with a plan


There’s a wonderful force helping to drive the future of the city of Hillsboro. It’s a plan and it’s called “Imagine Hillsboro”. More precisely, it’s a well conceived strategic plan, much like you would expect to find driving the goals and objectives of a well-run small business, government or corporation.

There’s a well known quote often attributed to various luminaries that advises: “When you stop growing, you start dying.” One such luminary, John Fowles, more specifically warns: “A plan for growth is imperative, and where there is no plan, all is hazardous.”

Fortunately, thanks to the hard work of the Hillsboro Planning Commission, the Hillsboro City Council, and the steering committee responsible for driving the strategic plan, “Imagine Hillsboro” is thriving.

By definition, the purpose of the plan is to come together to shape the future of the city of Hillsboro, and to imagine the possibilities for the city by establishing concrete actions defining clear priorities, actions and goals.

Full disclosure… I proudly serve on the planning commission and on the steering committee associated with the “Imagine Hillsboro” strategic plan, but the good work and imagination that spawned this plan preceded my recent involvement.

My experience working with an international company informs my contention that strategic plans are critical to thriving businesses, but their Achilles heel is their tendency to wind up sitting on a shelf in someone’s office only to be discovered again, covered with dust, pretending to be some kind of archaeological time capsule of good intentions.

Not so with “Imagine Hillsboro”. Our city’s plan is reviewed twice a year and updated based on such critical factors as new development activities, new funding possibilities, changing demographics, evolving data, new imaginations, and new revenue prospects.

The list of priorities includes, but is hardly limited to, things like increasing the supply of housing, improving utilities and basic city infrastructure, improved general access to high-speed internet, business and commercial development, the enhancement of parks, trails and green spaces, new connector roads, alleviating traffic congestion, welcoming gateway landmarks, and city collaborations with county and local educational institutions.

The work of the strategic plan is evidenced by the refreshed look of the historic district, new restaurants, a huge new commercial development zone (the Roberts Road Project), electric vehicle charging stations, the creation of a city economic and community development department, the cleanup of blighted properties, the revitalized Railroad Street and Liberty parks, the West Main Street amphitheater space, a new Marshalls and a Marriott Hotel and retail-restaurant complex that’s underway. One of my favorite developments happens to be the beautiful murals blossoming on the brick walls of the historic district.

It’s important that strategic plans are fueled by good ideas and commitments to be attentive to goals and objectives, but it’s equally important that the fuel mixture includes good data, realistic budgeting, well-grounded demographic data, up-to-date real estate data like what’s happening to real estate prices in the city and county, and pragmatic development and infrastructure priorities. This is why strategic plans by cities like Hillsboro are so critical to the growing process, and to avoid the hazards of indifference or procrastination.

All to say, the “Imagine Hillsboro” steering committee will be meeting this month to review the plan once again. We welcome new ideas, and I would invite readers who would like to share their brilliant ideas with the plan’s steering committee to send them to me at willjsims@yahoo.com.

Needless to say, Hillsboro is a vibrant city with a plan. I can say with a great deal of confidence that there are no contrary signs of death or demise.

Bill Sims is a Hillsboro resident, retired president of the Denver Council on Foreign Relations, an author and runs a small farm in Berrysville with his wife. He is a former educator, executive and foundation president.

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