5 Practices to Avoid When Planning Your 2022 Economic Development Strategy

5 Practices to Avoid When Planning Your 2022 Economic Development Strategy Main Photo

7 Dec 2021

News, Blog, Strategic Planning

Though the past two years taught all of us to pivot, long-term economic viability requires more than being nimble, which you should keep in mind when planning your 2022 economic development strategy. If there is one thing we all have learned, it’s that we can no longer build a future within the framework of the past. 2020 and 2021 have transformed our world in a way that makes a solid strategy more important than ever before. 

How confident are you in your 2022 Economic Development Strategy? 

Ask yourself these five questions: 

1. Is our 2022 strategy too complex?

It’s a given that economic development is fraught with complexities ranging from unexpected circumstances, to intricate laws and regulations, to mind-boggling logistics. That said, if  you overthink and overwrite your strategy, you run the risk of getting lost in the details, losing your overarching focus, and ultimately losing your way. Though every community is different, every solid economic development strategy should be built around the same basic core components: supporting business, supporting the workforce, and supporting quality of life. If you can keep those objectives at the forefront of your mind, and build a team with resourceful sensibilities, you can confidently write your 2022 economic development strategy in broad strokes, knowing you’re armed with the tactics you’ll  need to adapt to change.

2. Does our 2022 strategy focus on current priorities and/or resolve current problems?

As Theodore Roosevelt famously said, “Do what you can, with what you’ve got, where you are.” Your 2022 strategy should feel ready, real, and relevant. Envisioning what your community could be is important, but you can’t begin to bring it to that level without also seeing it for what it is. An honest, grounded strategy will help you avoid unexpected pitfalls, and seize new opportunities as they arise.

3. Does our 2022 strategy boil down to budget? 

Every economic development organization needs a solid grasp of the money it needs to achieve its goals. Coming up with those hard numbers is a big job, but it’s just the beginning. Once you know where you want to go, and what resources it will take to get there, it’s time to determine how and when you need to arrive at each milestone. Beginnings are energizing, but you should also consider how you’ll keep your forward momentum during those inevitable periods of creeping interia and tough uphill climbs.

4. Does our 2022 strategy overlook local culture and the strategic partners we need to succeed?

No matter how inspired the vision, or how well-laid the plan, you won’t succeed without the cooperation of committed, key stakeholders. Have you cultivated the relationships you need with elected officials, local business leaders, influential residents, non-profit organizations, educational institutions, real estate developers, and other key players who have a vested interest in your community? If so, are you doing all you can to keep those stakeholders motivated, engaged, on the same page, and moving in the same direction?

5. Does our 2022 strategy lack methods for measurement, tracking, or accountability?

Strategizing is an exercise in choosing. It takes a lot of brainpower to assemble a team, define meaningful goals, and marry those goals to realistic dollar amounts, thorough explanations, and appropriate target dates. Completing those steps will answer “Who? “What?” “When?” “Where?” And “Why?” The question left is the hardest of all . . .  “How?”

Which actions are most critical to achieving success? How shall we measure progress? Where does the buck stop with each initiative? And last, but certainly not least, How do we ensure transparency?

Get Help With Your 2022 Economic Development Strategy

All in all, you want more than results. You want sustainable results. To ensure sustainable success, your 2022 economic development strategy must be well-calibrated and aligned with the people and activities that will create the most impact.

We wrote these questions with all economic development organizations in mind. For more in-depth help with your community’s nuanced needs in developing and promoting your 2022 economic development strategy, contact us. Helping economic developers succeed is what we do. It’s all we do. We’ve been doing it for years.

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