Economic and community development
By DON COX

Knowing a community's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats is basic information for forming any kind of economic and community development strategic plan.

A typical list of community strengths usually includes: the availability of a skilled workforce, accessibility for transportation of goods and services (location), adequate infrastructure (streets, water, sewer, fire and police protection, schools, recreation facilities, availability of quality housing, healthcare facilities) and a business friendly environment. Strong community support is also a very important asset.

Community weaknesses may include having: a limited or unskilled workforce, inadequate infrastructure, a single economic base, unattractive or blighted areas, excessive number of vacant buildings with deferred maintenance, limited zoning and land use control and a non-competitive incentive package for new or expanding businesses.

Some weaknesses are difficult to change while others can be overcome with cooperation and a positive approach to problem solving.

The community's resources or strengths usually determine opportunities for growth and development. For example, a community with sound infrastructure, a strong skilled workforce, a choice location and a favorable attitude supporting business, could be very competitive in attracting new industry or assisting in the expansion of an existing business. Also, a community with a comprehensive and working strategic plan is usually better prepared to capitalize on economic opportunities than those without a plan.

Threats to a local economy could be the potential loss of a major employer, the reduction in an available and skilled workforce, deteriorating infrastructure, increasing apathy within the community, and inefficient allocation of limited resources.

The above list of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats are examples of factors each community should consider in developing an approach for a successful plan to improve the economy and quality of life for its citizens.

The Cimarron County Chamber of Commerce and The L.E.A.D. Committee are hosting an economic and community development planning meeting at 7 P.M. March 25, 2004 at the PTSI building in Boise City. If you would like to participate in the future growth and development of Cimarron County, you are invited to attend this meeting.