The Strategic Value of a Strategic Plan ”Albuquerque Journal

If you’ve worked, covered, or just followed local economic development for long enough, there’s a good chance you’ve seen a high-profile report that shows how your city stacks up against its competition, identifies strengths and weaknesses, and traces it. the way forward for recovery.

But what do these reports really bring?

Take Albuquerque’s New Comprehensive Five-Year Economic Development Strategic Plan, designed to quantify the city’s standing relative to its peers and guide the way toward building a more sustainable and diverse local economy. AED CEO and President Danielle Casey told the Journal that the organization collaborated with two research companies, incorporated more than 80 one-on-one interviews, and spent many months gathering the data.

Some of the recommendations (improving K-12 education, reducing reliance on the oil and gas industry) aren’t new, but that doesn’t mean reports like this aren’t. not important, Casey said.

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On the one hand, they get us into the habit of looking at our communities in the same way that national research companies might.

Danielle Casey is CEO and President of Albuquerque Economic Development. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis / Journal)

Particularly at the start of the search for a new city to house operations, businesses don’t visit locals, drive along historic Route 66, or taste our green chili. Instead, they examine the data to see how Albuquerque empirically compares based on pre-selected metrics. And Casey said those rankings often differ from our local perceptions.

“There are a lot of things that we assumed we were either at a competitive advantage or at a disadvantage,” she said.

Take the absence of natural disasters in Albuquerque, something that city economic development professionals often present as a competitive advantage for the city. However, when the AED analyzed the numbers, it found that Albuquerque is actually average for the region on the risk index and has a moderate risk of natural disasters compared to its neighbors.

“When you look at competitive markets, we’re kind of in the middle,” Casey said.

Plus, these types of studies allow local leaders to set tangible goals rather than just focusing on nebulous improvements. We all want Albuquerque to improve, but having written goals gives leaders the ability to measure that improvement.

In AED’s case, the goal is essentially to reverse a stubborn economic trend over the past five years. From 2015 to 2020, Albuquerque’s employment grew only 0.7% per year, placing it in the bottom quartile of cities the size of Albuquerque. Over the next five years, AED’s goal is to rank in the top 25% of that same list.

Casey acknowledged that such a process could take much longer than five years, but said it offers something to achieve and provides a tangible goal that can galvanize the entire community.

“We wanted to make sure that what we were releasing was something that was actionable,” she said.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, studies like this help communities understand where their limits lie. On ACN’s list of weaknesses, surrounded by familiar refrains like crime, poverty and ineffective education, is the city’s perceived mentality of “scarcity” and its inability to “think big”.

Casey said the chip, and others on the list, came from interviews with local stakeholders who believe a city-wide weakness is its inability to look beyond the existing resources of the city. city ​​and look forward to a bright future. At least in theory, naming this weakness gives city leaders a chance to improve it.

“It’s kind of a self-restraint attitude,” Casey said. “When in reality, many communities have come from the worst. ”

Stephen Hamway covers economic development, health care and tourism for the Journal. He can be reached at s[email protected]

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