HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Mayor Toby Barker said Hattiesburg is full of potential, but it's going to take work for the city to reach it.
"We have to get out of this mindset of setting limits, self-imposed limits of where Hattiesburg can go," Mayor Barker told council members Wednesday during a Special Called Meeting to go over strategic planning for the Hub City.
Plans for implementing change and new processes may be done with the help of Dr. Stephen Barone. Dr. Barone is the founder and former President of Transformation Systems, LLC, a firm for leadership development and systems transformation.
"I'm forecasting habit change so people aren't shocked when they realize their current habits are not adequate to bring about the change they desire," Barone said.
Dr. Barone works across the country to help cities, school districts and organizations create a new vision. He has experience in the Pine Belt, with schools districts in Lamar County, Petal and Hattiesburg.
"Foreshadowing that habits are going to be called into question, maybe need to change some," Barone said. "It's saying it may hurt a little bit, but it's not a bad sign."
The session for strategic planning was described as an introduction, an opportunity to council members to hear Dr. Barone's message and possibly embrace the impact of change. Council members will discuss if they'd like to move forward with Dr. Barone and his company's help when it comes to the next five, ten or 15 years in Hattiesburg. Barker said he expects a decision at the start of the year.
"That's something we talked about a lot, planning for our future as a city and ensuring those long term goals that we set, that those can really be achieved," said council member Jeffrey George, representing Ward 1. "So it's exciting to hear us starting that process and exploring that."
The session with council members and the public Wednesday came at no cost to the taxpayers. Barker said several businesses made a private donation for Dr. Barone to come to the Hub City and said the plan is to continue raising money, if council decides to move forward.
"This is a long process, it can be a messy process, but what I think it does, it makes your community strong and unites your community on a common goal," Barker said.