Economic and community development

This the last of three articles written by Don Cox leading up to a county meeting on March 25- Ed.

After analyzing the community's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, a development organization can begin forming a strategic plan. A priority list of goals, based on the SWOT analysis, is usually determined by selecting those goals most critical to a community's immediate economic future and stability. A typical plan is centered around four or five very specific goals such as retaining local businesses and how to help them with expansion projects, attracting new businesses, and how to increase the community's competitive position. In this article we will take a look at two possible goals, “Retain existing commercial businesses” and “Assist local businesses with expansion projects”.

Goals are achieved by meeting certain objectives through action steps. For example, to attain the goal of “Retain existing businesses”, some objectives might include developing a program to help existing businesses, keeping the community competitive and attractive to existing businesses, developing a program of support and appreciation for businesses, identifying or creating a specific development program organization for a major industry such as agribusiness.

Designated individuals or groups completing action steps within a specific time frame accomplish objectives. Examples of action steps to complete the objective of developing a program of support and appreciation for businesses might include celebrating an annual business appreciation week, recognizing company/employee successes quarterly (include recognition in news articles and other local media), establishing a state/regional economic development resource directory for the business community, and providing a business assistance program including management issues, business development, employee training, financing, legal, taxation and international business opportunities. Action steps should always be measurable and designed to accomplish a specific goal.

Objectives and action steps to accomplish the second goal “Assist local businesses with expansion projects” could include providing referrals for financing expansion projects and providing referrals and assistance in arranging employee training as a result of expansion. Action steps to complete the second objective pertaining to employee training might include developing a checklist for business training needs created by expansion, and providing the information to the appropriate training organization for follow up, establishing an association with the local workforce development/community college to identify potential training capabilities and to encourage business expansion or attraction, and attending regional and statewide workshops/seminars focusing on business expansion and employee training.

These goals, objectives and action steps are used to illustrate a process that has been helpful in guiding communities through successful economic and community development efforts. If you would like to participate in the process, plan to attend a meeting co-hosted by the L.E. A.D. Committee and the Cimarron County Chamber of Commerce at 7 P.M., March 25, 2004 at the PTSI Building in Boise City.