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Nearly 100 people packed the A.C. Bud Hogan Center for Old Fort’s first community forum initiated by residents and the Community Engagement Project under Kate B. Reynold’s Charitable Trust.

Four community leaders are set to speak at the Old Fort Community Forum’s second meeting on Thursday.

The meeting takes place in the cafeteria at Old Fort Elementary from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Dinner and childcare are provided.

At the Forum’s first meeting in June, nearly 100 folks participated and collectively voted to discuss leadership development and engagement to focus on first. Other priorities set for future meetings include small business development, youth engagement, substance abuse, transportation and food security.

At Thursday’s meeting, the objectives for the Forum are to develop a vision for a strong, local economy in Old Fort; discuss the opportunities and barriers to grow the local economy in Old Fort; and to learn examples from existing efforts and identify ways to partner to strengthen the local economy.

During the meeting, attendees will actively take part in break-out sessions and large group discussions to identify the strengths, challenges and opportunities to build a strong local economy.

A group of community leaders will participate in a panel discussion at the meeting. The speakers are Steve Bush of the McDowell Chamber of Commerce, Freddie Killough of the Marion Business Association, Kim Effler of the Old Fort Chamber of Commerce and Chuck Abernathy with the McDowell Economic Development Association.

The planning team for the Old Fort Community Forum is Kirstie Conner, Lisa Ellis, Jeff Plemmons, Kim Effler, Heather Yzquierdo, Kim Chambers, Lavita Logan, Beth Silver, Kelsey Kingsley, Jon Kingsley, Robert Forbes, Pat Piercy, Ashley Carmack and Ginny Rhodes. The forum is facilitated by Community Engagement Project (CEP) Consultant Mary Snow and Project Coordinator Ginger Webb. CEP is a partnership between the McDowell Health Coalition and McDowell Technical Community College with generous support from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust.

For more information, visit Old Fort Community Forum on Facebook or email

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