How do you know when it is time for a new community or economic development strategy? Here are a few telltale signs - any one of these should trigger the development of a new strategy.
- Your last strategy was completed when faxing was the hot new technology. Or if the strategy is stored in archives, if nobody knows you have one, if you never have had one, or it is around here somewhere.
- When the majority of action plans have been implemented or addressed - this typically takes 3-4 years.
- When there are significant new opportunities and/or challenges presented in the broader economy, or in your community. For example, what new economic opportunities emerge as a result of newly installed broadband coverage for your entire rural community?
- There is a lack of focus or lack of consensus on what the economic or community development priorities are. Perhaps the current strategy has far too many strategic themes and strategies - perhaps it is not strategic at all.
- There is confusion, duplication, or worse, competition over who does what amongst your community and/or economic development partners.
My observation over the years is that the single greatest challenge to successful economic development is the lack of focus on a very limited number of opportunities. The process of developing a new strategy should solve all of the above issues and build community momentum and stakeholder support for action-oriented implementation over the next few years.