The Wake County Board of Commissioners has approved its goals for 2021, which highlight the need for creating prosperity for all Wake County residents regardless of their socioeconomic status, race, town of residence or any other characteristic. Based on those goals, Board Chair Matt Calabria announced “Prosperity for All” as the thematic focus for the Board’s work in 2021.
“Our county has pockets of prosperity, but that prosperity is not enjoyed by all of our residents,” said Calabria. “Wake County can be cutting-edge and care about everyone in our community. Those are not opposing values. Being ‘smart with a heart’ is at the core of who we are.”
The pillars on which this theme is built include, as examples:
- Creating affordable housing options and supporting efforts to end homelessness. For example, Wake County is currently on track to achieve its goal of eliminating veteran homelessness by the end of 2021 and to not just meet but exceed its five-year goal for number of affordable housing units produced.
- Improving access to affordable, high-quality care for residents experiencing medical and/or behavioral health challenges. Wake County has already piloted a behavioral health urgent care, is implementing strategies to reduce infant mortality, and is working to provide more sustainable support for behavioral healthcare efforts.
- Supporting economic development efforts to bring diverse jobs, talent, businesses and visitors to Wake County. The county is poised to continue—and build on—its economic development efforts, including those that encourage socially responsible business practices. It will focus especially on creating workforce development opportunities for middle- and working-class families, helping justice-involved persons re-enter the workforce, and combating racial inequities, including through the recently announced A Better Wake partnership.
- Providing access to excellent educational opportunities for toddlers in Pre-K all the way to adults embarking on college careers at Wake Tech. This includes building on the groundbreaking WakeWorks program pioneered with Wake Tech. The Commission is also poised to begin discussing a multi-year plan for expanding Pre-K options for underserved children as early as March 8, 2021.
- Preserving open space and protecting our water supply while planning for future growth. This includes the exploration of new greenspace projects, as well as developing Wake County’s cutting-edge “One Water” plan to better integrate strategies for the handling of drinking water, groundwater, stormwater and other water sources.
Throughout the year, the Board will work with county staff, as well as external partners and stakeholders, to make progress in achieving these and other goals, which the commissioners established during a series of virtual retreats in January and February. A full list of the Board’s goals is here.
“Our response to COVID-19 will remain at the forefront, but the pandemic has done nothing to diminish the need to strengthen our economy, bolster our education system, build out our transportation options and better address housing affordability,” said Chair Calabria. “We can’t allow the pandemic to sideline our efforts to address enduring and important issues for our county.”