Successful approaches to economic development have been reviewed for common themes. Based on this research, the following three conclusions have been reached.
Further research was done in several states and communities with working strategic visioning programs to determine keys to their success. Based on these survey results and the supporting literature, the commonalities to their successes are listed below:
If local residents and leaders do not endorse the effort, it probably will not work. Outside forces cannot drive effort, but should be resources.
Broad Community Involvement
The effort should involve more than a few community leaders. Wide participation from many groups within the community is essential.
The community should take an active role in planning the program. Outsiders can be facilitators, but the final plan must come from the community if successful implementation is to follow.
Successful strategic visioning programs must include service providers from the community. Training and Assistance should be made available through community resources.
Reliable Survey and Secondary Data
Good planning requires good information. Communities need access to reliable, up-to-date data on their community. Assistance in interpreting and analyzing their community data might also be necessary.
Exposure to New Information
The program should challenge community participants. Old assumptions about community conditions should be challenged and new ideas explored. The community participants should begin to think strategically about the future.
Service providers must be flexible and reasonably responsive to community requests for assistance. Programs offering assistance in strategic visioning must be flexible and innovative in dealing with community needs.