Developing in a Structured Manner
Economic development in Gesgapegiag, a Mi’gmaq community located along the Baie-des-Chaleurs, has been growing steadily in recent years. This progress is due for the most part to good practices put in place in the community in terms of strategic planning.
The community strategic planning of Gesgapegiag is based on five areas, which includes economic development. To ensure this sector would be developed in a structured and smart way, the economic development department, led by Ms. Hollie Larocque, could rely on a strategic planning, which will end on March 31, 2020. She is therefore working on the drafting of a new plan, which will be prepared on the basis of consultations to be conducted in the community and expected to become effective on April 1st 2020. This new plan will guide the actions of the community for the next few years. A strategic plan was also developed for Gesgapegiag Tourism, given that this industry has been identified as one of the most promising sectors.
The example of Gesgapegiag leads us today to talk about the strategic planning process in economic development.
What exactly is Strategic Planning in Economic Development?
Strategic planning is an approach to provide a broad overview of what the community does in the area of economic development and on the course to be followed in the future. In general, it addresses orientations of short, mid or long term, which means it avoids redoing the process every year. In its guide on Strategic Planning, the FNQLEDC proposes four key steps specific to the approach:
- Strategic diagnosis;
- Strategic choices and objectives;
- Operational planning and action plans;
- Monitoring and measuring.
This stage is instrumental in positioning the community in the economic sectors in which it evolves and helps identify development opportunities. It is then divided into two steps, the internal diagnosis and the external diagnosis. Internal diagnosis focuses on the factors linked directly to the community. For example, it can be the availability of resources, or the field of expertise and the level of training of its members. The goal is to bring out the strengths and weaknesses of the community.
The external diagnosis focuses on the environment surrounding the community. It will focus on six aspects: political, economic, social, technological, environmental and legal. (PESTEL). The objective is to highlight the opportunities and the threats which could affect the community in its economic development.
Strategic Choices and Objectives
It is at that stage that the interveners taking part in the economic decision-makings of the community, will decide on the orientations to take for the latter, based on the results of the strategic diagnosis. They shall identify the economic sectors to exploit, elaborate strategic objectives and the targets to be attained, and decide on the projects that will be given priority.
Operational Planning and Action Plan
It is at this stage that the orientations and the strategic choices made at the previous phase will be implemented. Therefore, there will be a need to identify the means to be implemented to reach the objectives. The end result should be a concrete action plan which specifies the actions to be carried out, who is responsible for it, based on what timeframe, what are the resources allocated (budget, human resources, etc.) and the anticipated outcomes.
Monitoring and Measuring
This is the crucial step for the strategic planning process since this is where we will ensure that the intended course of action is properly implemented and that it continues to respond to the orientations identified by the community. In general, there are two types of monitoring, the strategic monitoring and the operational monitoring.
Involvement of the Community
One of the key success factors of a good strategic planning in economic development is the involvement and the mobilization of all the stakeholders of the community. Effectively, the implementation and the success of a strategic plan depend largely on the level of mobilization of the community. It is thus of paramount importance to include all the players of economic development in the consultation and reflection process, especially those who act as decision-makers.
For all those who would be interested in knowing more about the strategic planning process in economic development, the FNQLEDC proposes a « Strategic Planning Guide » comprising the various steps for implementation.
Further information on the Gesgapegiag community can be found at gesgapegiag.ca.
To consult the strategic planning guide, don’t hesitate to visit the toolbox section of our website.