Building Communities

Economic Development Strategic Planning

The Building Communities’ core competency is community and economic development strategic planning.

We believe that virtually all community planning should start with a Building Communities-based strategic plan.  Such a plan

The Traditional Approach The Building Communities Approach

Communities of all types (cities, counties, tribes and regions) are currently having an especially difficult time meeting citizen needs and expectations for economic development, job creation and community advancement.  The hard reality is that the nation's challenging economic times have greatly reduced, if not eliminated, discretionary funding to pursue such priorities.

Nevertheless, for cities and counties that want to begin improving their economy and quality of life, this important work must start with economic development strategic planning. However, the traditional approach to such planning is filled with many potential pitfalls, including:

  • Strategies are often not defined or are unknown
  • Communities do not know which economic development strategies are truly viable
  • Specific action steps to implement certain strategies are not apparent
  • Determining the staffing, training and budgeting requirements is often too subjective
  • Entrenched special interests may hijack the process anyway

In short, traditional economic development strategic planning is usually imprecise, subjective and unproductive with low‐value outcomes.  It does not have to be that way.

Building Communities offers an economic development strategic planning paradigm shift.  Instead of starting with the typical demographic study and community‐based SWOT analysis, Building Communities begins by helping community leaders evaluate the 25 known executable economic development strategies through the Key Success Factor Analysis™.

Leaders then consider separate Key Success Factors™ relevant to one or more of the strategies.  By evaluating the assets and characteristics of their own community, leaders take a very objective approach to identifying strategies that are truly viable.

Finally, once the strategies are selected, Building Communities presents specific Essential Action Steps™ the community should seriously consider taking in order to efficiently and effectively implement the chosen strategies.

Community leaders then develop a Plan Implementation Workbook that identifies who will do what by when.

No longer will economic development strategic planning in your community be simply an academic exercise that results in the proverbial report on the shelf.  In fact, Building Communities can integrate existing plans, or ones in process, into the Building Communities’ model.

Every Community Needs to Plan

We believe that every community, regardless of size, should engage in economic development strategic planning.   For many small communities, it makes sense to collaborate within their county or region to build such a plan.

Community and Economic Development Strategic Plans
What is a community and economic development strategic plan? A plan to strengthen the community's economic condition and bolster its overall quality of life
How long is the plan good for? 3-5 years
Who should do the plan? The process needs to be led by an organization (city, county, tribe, non-profit, etc.) and include all affected people
How long does it take? As long as you need.   We can help you conduct the entire process in 12-14 weeks.
How much does it cost? It depends.   The average price of a generic (non-Building Communities) plan in 2012 was $68,000.   Our price is typically less, depending upon the specifics of the planning effort.
What is in the plan?

If it is a Building Communities plan, it contains:

  • Your economic development strategies
  • Your Quality-of-life Initiatives
  • Your specific action steps to implement the plan
  • A workbook outlining who is going to do what by when
  • A listing of the resources you will need to implement the plan
  • Specific performance measures

For a full description of our process, read about our strategic planning process.

Who implements the plan? Community leaders, professionals and volunteers
Is this the same as a vision statement? No.   A vision statement is a description of conditions at a future point in time.   A strategic plan has specific action steps to get there.
What community is too big or too small for this planning? All communities should engage in this planning.   Building Communities has done planning for counties with populations of less than 1000.  Our approach can address the largest of cities because we segment cities into neighborhoods, districts or other planning areas.
How do we get started? Just call or email us.   We are happy to tailor our approach to your needs and situation.

Economic Development Strategic Planning Modules

Our economic development strategic planning process is designed to be a comprehensive approach for a community to envision and enact its future. We recommend that a community engage our services for the full Plan-Week-generated strategic plan.

We recognize, however, that there are circumstances where a community may want to take a partial step toward a full plan. Accordingly, Building Communities offers Strategic Planning Modules. These modules each address one specific question:


8/31/22 - New Building Communities Software

We are pleased to announce that Building Communities is a part of a team that has received a federal grant through the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA). Funding from the FY2020 Scaling Pandemic Resilience Through Innovation and Technology (SPRINT) is enabling Building Communities to "create and demonstrate the power of virtual economic development strategic planning tools!"

Watch this space for your opportunity to access this software in order to conduct the economic development strategic planning and implementation process yourself!


©2017 Building Communities, Inc.