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Partnership still reshaping growth plan
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The Fort Stewart Growth Management Partnership Board met Tuesday afternoon to hear updates regarding the current phase of the Fort Stewart/Hunter Army Airfield growth plan.
Liz Drake of the design and planning firm AECOM and Sean Martin of the Fort Stewart Growth Management Partnership relayed input from subcommittee members and key community stakeholders who were tapped last fall to share concerns related to projected growth at Fort Stewart and in Liberty, Long, Bryan and Tattnall counties.
Martin opened his portion of the input review by saying the discussion of issues is not tantamount to having defined solutions for each; additionally, many issues are felt by some counties and not others.
The discussions revealed input and perceived issues in several categories, including education, health and human services, workforce and housing. The input will be used in discussions over several months, to be developed into a report with full findings and analyses. A draft report is expected to be presented to the public again in late June.


Stakeholders in the education field said they most wanted better predictability from the military regarding incoming soldiers, Martin said.
He also said they expressed a desire to overcome the need created by the recent funding lag. In turn, consultants expressed to education leaders in all four counties that actions will need to be taken to accommodate growth. “We’re not advocating they build new schools,” Martin said, but there are numerous options to be explored when dealing with population growth.

Health and human services

Stakeholders in health care and human services expressed concerns about the low percentage of providers who accept TRICARE, which is one of the larger health-care coverage programs in the region because of the military population.
Other concerns include the rate of patients leaving the region for specialty care and the shortage of primary care physicians, as well as a low awareness of available human service providers and the need for rural transportation to available programs. Other foreseeable demands focused on supporting military families and caring for the aging population.


Community leaders who interact directly with or are involved in the development of the local workforce want to examine the region’s workforce capabilities and training resources. Some revealed that existing workforce populations sometimes showed limited basic skill competencies and work reliability. Others shared that they value the area’s retired military population for their general work skills and reliability. Overall, the stakeholders see a lack of depth in technical skill sets.


Drake explained that housing issues will likely be addressed in stages over three decades, beginning first with an assessment of growth among existing and proposed housing developments, followed by areas targeted for development and ending with undeveloped areas seen as capable of supporting growth.
She also said initial issues will be addressed, such as whether new housing will meet the needs of military personnel and whether the region offers affordable housing that is suitable to meet future needs.

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