EDOs are Updating Strategic Plans to Carpe Diem

Disruption in the economy, changing marketing and communications strategies, and growing/declining sectors make this a good time to update your strategic plan. Which sectors should I focus on? What marketing strategies are best now? What’s the best way to help small businesses recover? These are a few of the questions our clients have been asking. If you have a solid, asset-based strategic plan, the overall goals probably will have not changed in the last year. However, many of the strategies and action steps – the nuances that make your plan specific – should be updated. Now is an ideal time to refresh the strategic plan to take advantage of emerging opportunities.

Here’s what a few EDOs are doing:

  • Williamsburg, VA – Williamsburg’s economy is anchored by Colonial Williamsburg and William & Mary. With tourism and related industries being the hardest hit last year, and continuing to lag this year, it was a good time to update the economic development plan to include recovery and resiliency strategies. Most of the businesses in Williamsburg are small businesses, so much of the update centered on small business support initiatives like a long-term plan for outdoor dining to help restaurants. Since new business formations are up across the country, the EDA is updating its recruitment materials to attract startups as the economy gains momentum.
  • Gastonia, NC – In addition to refreshing strategies for product development, downtown revitalization, and BRE, the city added a spotlight on small business and entrepreneurs to capture the wave of new business starts. Updating and expanding existing grant and loan programs, in addition to helping partners expand business support services, is part of the city’s new strategy. Serial entrepreneurs that weathered the last year are ready to make investments, and Gastonia wants them in their downtown.
  • Small Business and Technology Development Center, NC – SBTDC is North Carolina’s Small Business Development Center network. Through CARES funding, SBTDC significantly expanded its workforce to help small businesses recover from the pandemic. This was an ideal time to update the strategic plan because the way SBTDC is delivering services and the services businesses are demanding have changed. SBTDC is seizing the moment by investing in people and technology.
  • Stokes County, NC – Outdoor recreation and tourism driven by visitors to Hanging Rock State Park make up a large part of the Stokes County economy. In 2020, the county saw a significant increase in visitors to the state park, trails, bikeways, and community parks. Now that more people have ‘discovered’ Stokes County, it is an ideal time to invest in tourism infrastructure and destinations to attract longer overnight stays.

What each of these EDOs have in common is carpe diem – seize the day. Each organization saw emerging opportunities out of the disruptions of the last year and decided to take action. Follow their lead. Refresh your strategic plan and carpe diem!

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