Wayne Onward, a comprehensive planning process for Wayne County, Ohio, has been honored with an Award of Merit from the American Planning Association (APA) County Planning Division and the National Association of County Planners in the category of Comprehensive Plan, Large Jurisdiction. It also received an award from the APA Ohio Planning Division for a comprehensive plan of unusually high merit with a Census population of 100,000. Wayne Onward had previously won a 2020 Small Town and Rural (STaR) Award from APA.
In 2018, County leaders realized that they needed to take deliberate and decisive action to preserve the County’s rural heritage while managing growth and change. Like in many rural areas across the country, changes to the agricultural industry, as well as demands for new residential development in scenic areas, were impacting the character of the County. Retaining and attracting young people, supporting the Amish community, promoting vibrancy of urbanized areas, limiting sprawl and ensuring strong workforce development strategies were also key priorities. Wayne Onward effectively engaged people in meaningful—though sometimes challenging—conversations about the evolution of the County and put forth specific recommendations to realize the plan’s goals. This included a focus on implementation, resulting in notable success since the time of the plan’s adoption in pursuing regulatory and incentive-based actions to help shape the County’s future.