Now that you have reviewed the common terms of the strategic planning process, we can move on to the actual steps involved. It is important to note that the steps are not always followed in sequence, and some steps may not be included. However, taken together, the steps form a sound basis for local planning efforts. These ten steps are typically found, in one form or another, in strategic planning efforts. These steps are also clearly outlined in Worksheet 2.
Steps 1- 5 deal with the initial groundwork for creating a strategic plan that includes assurance of community participation, formation of an organizational structure and the assessment (s) of community resources. After the groundwork, the community is ready to begin developing a plan.
Begin/Continue the Process
Someone, or some group, must make the initial decision to build a strategic plan for economic development. It is at this point that the community decides if the benefits of the process are worth the effort. This is the time when an outside resource provider, such as the Cooperative Extension Service, is indentified and contacted.
Engage the Community
Broad community support is critical. The wider the range of participants, the greater the pool of talent available to help. Public sector groups, private sector representatives, and volunteer organizations should all be encouraged to participate.
Form an Organized Structure
Utilize an existing organization or form a new one. Someone, or some group, needs to be responsible for the effort. If a new group is formed, a more formalized structure with by-laws may be desired as the process continues.
Conduct Community Assessment(s)
Community data and information provide useful perspectives for planning. Communities should review local assets and determine what community resources are available. There are many tools available to assist in assessing community resources.
is a checklist covering key concerns for community planners involved in economic development. This checklist can be utilized early on when working with a community. The idea is to encourage community leaders to self-assess and look realistically at their level of preparation. Often, responding to this checklist is required before further assistance can be provided to a community group.
is a quality of life survey that many communities use to identify strengths, concerns, possible goals, and influential leaders. This survey has been used for two purposes. First, the community group can collect ideas and opinions for possible action. Second, the process of involving the community in the survey effort is very helpful in the beginning to engage the community and form consensus.
is a survey analyzing items which may be important to a town. Items can be ranked good, fair, or poor by the survey respondents.