From Planning to Implementation: A Guide to Economic Development Strategic Planning
10 Jan 2022
News, Strategic Plan
Economic development strategic planning is on the minds of most economic developers. Every community will be facing a need to rebuild its local economy as we begin to emerge from the pandemic in 2022. But even in the best of times, only three things can happen to any economy: It can expand. It can stagnate, or it can diminish. That’s why building and maintaining a strong, vibrant, local economy requires a highly proactive strategic plan.
7 Steps to Economic Development Strategic Planning
These seven steps will help you create a practical map to help your decision-makers work together to ensure the best possible future for your community.
Draft a great team. Since no individuals have in-depth knowledge in all areas, as well as experience working boards, strategic planning must be a collaborative project. For best results, enlist the active involvement of key members from both the private and nonprofit sectors as well as all levels of government.
Start by taking an unvarnished assessment of your community to ensure everyone on your team is well aware of the obstacles, opportunities, and critical issues that will impact your plan. It’s essential to make some of this discovery process participatory by way of surveys, focus groups, and/or town halls. The more closely you listen to your stakeholders at all levels, the more sector-specific insights you’ll gain. Those insights will help you and your team better understand the needs, values, and intricate complexities of the community you’re working so hard to serve.
Once your assessment brings your starting point into clear focus, it’s time to define your community’s objectives. Identify existing programs, people, and resources. Remember to make sure everyone has not only a clear picture of available assets but also a good understanding of the value your community places upon those assets. With this knowledge, you can then articulate an agreed-upon vision that defines the most pressing and important key outcomes for your community.4. Develop
Develop your plan by way of reverse engineering. Start with your priorities and goals, and work backward to determine your objectives, and finally, the tasks for implementation. Refine each initiative carefully to ensure that it has the right focus, and is affordable and realistic. This meticulous approach will make it easier to allocate resources to the best advantage.
Deploy . . . but not before you polish your deployment strategy by creating a timetable with benchmarks and criteria to measure progress.
Drive your plan the same way you’d drive any other vehicle; heading toward your destination while fine-tuning direction and speed in response to unforeseen factors that emerge when the rubber meets the road.
Look at every outcome as an opportunity for growth. This will help you reaffirm what worked best so you can replicate your successes, and identify areas where improvement will be warranted in the future. Success tends to yield more success when you look at both the results achieved and the lessons learned.
Get Help With Your Economic Development Strategic Plan
Does your organization need more help with its economic development strategic planning? Contact Golden Shovel Agency today. Helping economic development organizations is what we do. It’s all we do. We’ve been doing it for years.