Strategic planning helps leaders of an organization define their vision (the dream), set their goals, define ways to meet those goals, and develop practical ways to bring about necessary changes. It provides a living vehicle for organizational leaders to think strategically, to make sound decisions in a sea of game-changing circumstances, to focus efforts, and to develop consensus for collaboratively solving problems.
If our communities are going to thrive, we will have to adapt, and think differently about what grows an economy.
The first step in Hancock County Economic Development’s strategic planning process was to understand. Members of the board of directors completed a SWOT analysis to help identify what the organization is doing well, where it can improve, and where it fits within the competitive landscape.
We then looked at data to establish a baseline report – the “where we are” document.
The next step in the strategic planning process was to formulate. Here, we take what we learned from the research and data and decide who we are and where we want to go.
We look at our vision (the dream), our mission (statement of purpose), goals (the end results), strategies (the how), and action plan (what change will happen, and who will do what by when to make it happen).
The formulate process helps ground our dreams. It makes good ideas possible by laying out what needs to happen in order to achieve our vision. It also helps us focus on our short-term goals while keeping sight of our long-term vision and mission.
We used compression planning during our decide phase. This process is a way to focus groups quickly and bring out a group’s best thinking and energy to resolve complex issues. It helps get everybody heading in the same direction and compresses the planning time so that we can achieve the results we need.
This brings us to the plan and its components starting with our dream for the future:
Our Vision: (the dream)
Hancock County, Illinois, will be a place of prosperity, where individuals, families and businesses can develop and thrive as a result of a shared vision, strong local leadership, and community-led efforts.
Our Mission: (the purpose)
The mission of Hancock County Economic Development is to enhance the economic vitality of Hancock County, Illinois.
We chose three focus areas:
- Business Retention, Expansion and Attraction
- Workforce Development
- Marketing and Recruitment
Under each of these focus areas, we established goals.
Our Business Retention, Expansion, and Attraction goals are:
- To develop and strengthen existing business, industry, and entrepreneur partnerships.
- To attract new businesses to Hancock County.
Each goal was then broken down into strategies, or how we’re going to achieve the goals.
- Build relationships and consistent stewardship with target industries and entrepreneurs.
- Deploy a Hancock County Business SWAT Team to assist businesses and entrepreneurs.
- Provide information and resources to potential new businesses that will help these businesses make location decisions.
- Build relationships with vendors and suppliers of current Hancock Co. businesses through strategic communication that shares the benefits of locating and doing business in Hancock Co.
Our goal for workforce development is to develop a technically educated and skilled workforce prepared for employment. And our workforce development strategies are:
- Support the efforts of the Hancock County CEO through the investment of volunteer hours and annual financial support.
- Provide strategic, integrated career awareness education to students, resulting in improved understanding of career opportunities and pathways in Hancock County.
- Develop a Hancock County Workforce Readiness Certificate Program in partnership with schools and businesses.
Our marketing and recruitment goal is to communicate the unique benefits of living and working in Hancock County to individuals, families, and businesses with Hancock County connections. The marketing and recruitment strategies are:
- Develop a distinct and memorable Hancock County E.D. brand that conveys the values of Hancock County and its desirable attributes.
- Create and implement an annual comprehensive marketing and communications plan to consistently communicate the Hancock County E.D. brand to both internal and external stakeholders.
- Develop and implement an annual communications strategy aimed at local elected officials and HCED investors.
The last step of the official strategic planning process is the development and implementation of an action plan. This plan is a living document that includes our goals, strategies, action steps, dates, resources, responsible parties, and a way to measure progress. This document is designed to flex and grow. It should be referenced often and updated regularly. It’s our accountability document.