Wanted: A few good ideas on improving Atlantic County's economy.

Speak now or forever hold your peace.

The steering committee working with the county and a nationally known consultant to develop a plan to strengthen and diversify the county’s economy is asking for the public’s input.

Atlantic County Action Now is encouraging residents and business owners to take short surveys through its web site, and to attend community forums planned for later this month and in March.

“We already have more than 100 responses,” said county spokeswoman Linda Gilmore on Friday, after the survey had been up for just a couple of days.

She said the survey, which takes about five to 10 minutes to complete, was developed in cooperation with AngelouEconomics of Austin, Tex. The Atlantic County Improvement Authority, working with county government, hired the firm to help residents and business owners develop a regional economic plan for the county.

Members of Atlantic County Action Now, headed by Leo Schoffer of Schoffer Enterprises in Egg Harbor Township, also had input on the questions asked, Gilmore said. Plans call for the committee to become an independent nonprofit, county officials have said.

The survey contains both multiple choice questions and those that require a written response.

The first forum is set for Feb. 26 at the Mays Landing campus of Atlantic Cape Community College, and later forums will be probably be held further west in the county and on Absecon Island, said Gilmore.

Since January 2015, the AngelouEconomics team has met with over 400 local people and eight industry focus groups, according to the county.

Now it is turning its attention to the general public to provide input in determining a new direction for Atlantic County.

“This initiative is founded on the belief that we have the collective talent and ability right here in Atlantic County to best shape our economic future,” said County Executive Dennis Levinson, as he  encouraged everyone to complete the survey and attend the public forums.

“It’s your county and your future. We need to hear your concerns, what it is you want, and what you believe needs to be done,” he said.

TAKE THE SURVEY:

Online surveys for residents and businessowners are at www.atlanticcountyactionnow.com. Hard copies are also available at the 10 branches of the Atlantic County Library System. Locations and hours are available at www.atlanticlibrary.org or by calling 609-625-2776.

IF YOU GO:

The first public forum on diversifying the Atlantic County economy will be 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Feb. 26 at the Walter Edge Theater, Atlantic Cape Community College, 5100 Black Horse Pike, Mays Landing. Two additional forums will be held in March, with locations and dates to be announced soon.

Contact Michelle Brunetti Post:

609-272-7219

@MichelleBPost on Twitter

Staff Writer

In my first job after college got paid to read the New York Times and summarize articles for an early online data base. First reporting job was with The Daily Record in Parsippany. I have also worked in nonprofits, and have been with The Press since 1990.

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