As the city begins the final phase of Engage New Albany, the latest strategic-plan update, the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic helps to bring into sharp relief the critical importance of the city's master plan in helping to weather economic downturns and protect investment for the long term while improving our quality of life.

The planning process, which began last summer, is designed to effectively manage growth and development by prioritizing community needs, guiding private development, maintaining community character, prioritizing public-infrastructure investment and generating income to support services.

Key focus areas include land use, transportation, sustainability, parks and open space, the village center, community services, amenities and programs and economic development.

A third and final community workshop will be held online in early summer to collect feedback from residents and businesses on the strategic-plan recommendations prior to adoption by New Albany City Council.

One of the goals of master planning is to create a stable, self-sustaining community that can weather downturns without causing dramatic declines in services.

For example, the city's forward-thinking approach to the economics of commercial growth has resulted in the creation of five industry clusters: personal care and beauty, information technology and mission critical, health care, corporate office and research and development and high-tech manufacturing and logistics. The diversity of industries in the New Albany International Business Park helps mitigate the risk of a financial challenge one large employer or entire sector might face. And, unlike communities dominated by residential uses, 47% of land in New Albany is zoned for commercial use.

More than 84% of the city's general-fund revenue comes from income taxes primarily derived from the business park. Additionally, $74 million in property and income-tax revenue generated by the park goes to support the New Albany-Plain Local School District.

During the early weeks of the pandemic, many companies in the Personal Care and Beauty Campus of our business park actually increased production to make more hand sanitizers and cleansers to meet demand, whereas others have shifted to creating protective gear. By instituting rigorous safety standards, these companies are maintaining or, in some cases, increasing production, recruiting employees and generating more income-tax revenue for the city.

At the same time, three of the biggest players in the tech industry, Amazon Web Services, Facebook and Google, continue to expand their presence in New Albany, and, despite the small numbers of employees needed to run data centers, the city's negotiated fee structure produces more revenue for the city and schools than what could be generated from income taxes alone. For example, in its deal with Google, the city estimates that it will generate the equivalent amount of income-tax revenue it would receive from a company with 750 employees and a payroll of $37.5 million. The revenue is not impacted by the size of the workforce.

Another way that the Engage New Albany strategic plan ensures the city's financial strength while still delivering a high level of service is in the plan's development of a citywide fiscal-impact analysis.

The result will be a land-use map to help city leaders and planners project the amount of revenue the municipality can expect to receive from various land uses, both commercial and residential, as well as the cost to service those specific land uses, making sure we grow while maintaining our financial position and our high level of services.

Adrienne Joly is director of administrative services for New Albany.