Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Strategic Planning - Yes, it really really matters

So, how many of you volunteers out there have heard the words "Strategic Planning" and promptly run the other way? :) If you are like most people, than you have probably groaned at the mention of those dreaded words.

Strategic planning is on my mind today because we have been working very hard towards creating a strategic plan for the entire BBRP program AND for each individual borough. I wanted to take a second and list the reasons as to WHY a plan is so important.

Strategic Planning – Why it is Important

  1. It’s Required: As part of the original contract signed by all participating boroughs, the development of a Strategic Plan is a required component of the grant which enables our program to exist. Accordingly, the Department of Community & Economic Development has asked the Pennsylvania Downtown Center to conduct yearly evaluations of all Main Street programs. Failure to develop a Strategic Plan will result in a lower score on our evaluation.
  2. It’s Necessary for Grants: Downtown Reinvestment Grants, Anchor Grants and Hometown Street Grants all require that a Strategic Plan has been enacted. The rational for this is to ensure that any grant money is part of a comprehensive, long-term plan; this way, grant money won’t be wasted. Both PennDOT and the DCED want to see how grant money will fit into a communities needs and plans. Without a long term plan, grant money such as this is impossible to obtain.
  3. It’s Necessary for Future Funding: The Main Street program has already achieved a variety of successes. Upon the completion of the BBRP program, all boroughs will be eligible to apply to become a Main Street or Elm Street community in their own right. However, funding for these programs is extremely competitive. A Strategic Plan ensures the DCED that the community applying will not waste their money and will confirm that the community is serious about becoming a Main Street community. Having a Strategic Plan is a necessary component of future funding.
  4. Priorities are important: One of the key components of a Strategic Plan is that it determines the priorities of what a community wants to see improved and in what areas those improvements can be made. Needs can be prioritized by items that need greater attention. This enables a community to have a comprehensive vision as to what it wants done.
  5. Investment Opportunities: One of the key components of the Main Street program is the development of partnerships between areas of the public and private sectors. However, potential private sector investors (such as banks, hospitals and other local businesses) will view Main Street in a similar fashion that they view any other investment opportunity: they’ll want to know what will be achieved with their investment. A Strategic Plan goes a long way towards demonstrating a real desire to succeed and a working knowledge of what a community wishes to achieve. In this sense, a Strategic Plan is another component to a comprehensive fundraising strategy.
  6. Allows a Borough to see what it is working toward: Operating without a Strategic Plan is similar towards driving down an unfamiliar road without a map: you can’t possibly know if where you are going is where you really want to be. The development of a Strategic Plan is the development of that road map. This way, you can be sure that any work that you engage in within your community will absolutely move you in the direction you want it to go.

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