It may seem obvious to economic developers and their leaders that a strategic plan is needed to guide economic development efforts in an area. Often, it is not obvious because the benefits are not clearly understood.
For several years, I taught strategic planning courses at the Economic Development Institute. Here are the top benefits of strategic planning for the economic development organization:
Benefits of Economic Development Strategic Planning
Strategic planning serves a variety of purposes for an economic development organization, including to:
1. Define the purpose of the organization and to establish realistic goals and objectives consistent with that mission in a defined time frame within the organization’s capacity for implementation.
2. Communicate those goals and objectives to the organization’s constituents.
3. Develop a sense of ownership of the plan. (Leadership must own the plan!)
4. Ensure the most effective use is made of the organization’s resources by focusing the resources on the key priorities.
5. Provide a base from which progress can be measured and establish a mechanism for informed change when needed. (Your plan must be performance-based)
6. Build a consensus about where an organization is going and why and how.
7. Provide clearer focus of the organization, producing more efficiency and effectiveness. (ED organizations must use leveraged strategies to get things done.)
8. Bridge staff and board of directors (The two must be united in belief, goals, and strategies.)
9. Build strong teams in the board and the staff (The two must be one!)
10. Provide the glue that keeps leaders together (Especially in linking public and private sector leaders.)
11. Produce great satisfaction among stakeholders around a common vision.
12. Solves major problems and positions the organization for future opportunities.