January encourages us to look ahead to the coming year and plan for better things. That’s the spirit of most New Year’s resolutions, which helps us analyze, categorize and contemplate changes and improvements for 2017. Whether we keep our resolutions or not, planning is the right thing to do as we look ahead in the new year.
Good planning starts with asking the right questions. For community development leaders, those questions begin with the basics. Asking “Where are we today?” gives us the opportunity to assess our strengths, consider our challenges and match our view with the perception others have of our community.
The follow-up question is “Where do we want to be at this time next year?” That question involves community dialog and input to bring as much of the local population as possible into the conversation. Once you’ve set some goals, it’s time to look at ways to get there. You have to make it happen, and that means more planning.
Before a community can ask the question “How do we achieve our goals?” it’s necessary to ask something more basic: “Who’s in charge of making things happen?” The answer may be local government, the community development group or a committee of citizens who can meet and monitor progress. In any case, someone has to keep a finger on the pulse of community planning success. It’s never a good idea to assume that things will just happen, or that somebody else will take responsibility.
All these questions illustrate the importance of planning. Planning is the first step to any successful project, any community activity and any economic development initiative. Once you have a goal, a leadership team and the will to move forward, you’re ready to achieve great things.
Taking the time to plan now will help us look at the year ahead with confidence!
By Nick Fosheim, Executive Director, Minnehaha & Lincoln County Economic Development Associations
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