DEFINITION AND VISUALIZATION OF CURRENT STATUS
A key element to any strategic planning effort is a clear understanding the community's current situation—both in isolation and competitively. GeoPlanning Services can assist economic development organizations and consultants through the application of GIS and other software visualization tools to analyze and clearly communicate those conditions.
Demographics; labor force skills, availability, and cost; industrial mix; professional services locally available; taxation; utility availability, reliability and rates; and logistical circumstances all vary with geography. GIS is an extremely valuable tool in demonstrating variability in critical economic development factors that are necessary to creation of a strategic plan that is actionable and for which success can be measured.
TRADITIONAL S.W.O.T. ANALYSIS
Since economic development success is driven by competitive advantages, GeoPlanning Services can provide a geographic analysis of weaknesses relative to neighboring and other competitive communities. In traditional strategic planning a clear definition of regional Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (S.W.O.T.) serves as the foundation for goals and objectives that can be clearly defined, demand decisive action, and have measurable progress.
Once the weaknesses of the community have been clearly identified and understood, a strategic plan must address those weaknesses and present strategies to mitigate threats.
GIS can be useful to perform an analysis of the mitigation strategies. GIS can also be used to provide graphics to visualize mitigation strategies if they have a geographic component—improved access via a newly constructed roadway or interchange, improved fire suppression service response times with new fire stations construction, additional suitable industrial properties now available for development based on water or sewer improvements, etc.
Another key component of a community strategic plan may address workforce skills and readiness. GIS can be used to provide analysis of the current workforce and commuting patterns to provide a full picture of available labor force without respect to traditional political boundaries. While the plan may address the strategic direction of a single political unit (City, County, Multi-County) the demographic and services situation often is driven by factors outside of those boundaries.