The city of Waupaca is set to develop a new Strategic Plan for Economic Development.
It will do so this year over the course of four educational sessions.
“Throughout the planning process, we will be involving the public and allowing them to comment on it,” said Brennan Kane, the city’s development director.
The sessions are scheduled for 6-8 p.m. Tuesdays, Jan. 14, Feb. 11, March 18 and April 8.
They will be held in Meeting Rooms A and B, located in the lower level of the Waupaca Area Public Library, rather than in the Council Chambers.
“We are trying to broaden the knowledge scope of everyone on the council and the public,” Kane said. “They will be more roundtable, more one-on-one to get out of the mindset of having to make decisions and instead to talk about development.”
Kane, who has been the city’s development director for more than six months, said his job is not just about economic development, but about community development.
“I’m pursuing a certification in economic development right now. I will likely complete it in 2015. What I learned through the courses is good community development is good economic development,” he said.
Through a couple of seminars, the council has begun to hear that message.
The idea is for the city to lead the way in establishing a new direction for economic development.
The Strategic Plan for Economic Development will provide a baseline assessment of the existing conditions which drive the city’s economy and will help local stakeholders and city staff implement strategies which contribute to the city’s economic health.
Plans call for specific actions, priorities, programs and metrics to be identified.
City staff will conduct the four sessions with the assistance of local and regional partners.
The topic of the Jan. 14 session will be “Data Driven for A Stronger Economic Baseline.”
The facilitators will be Dave Thiel, Waupaca County Economic Development Corporation; Eric Fowle, East Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission; and Melissa Hunt, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.
Current economic data and trends will be presented. The Common Council’s view of the community will be the focus of the end of the session.
“Goals and Vision for A Stronger Tomorrow” will be the subject of the Feb. 11 session.
Mike Koles, Waupaca County UW-Extension office, and Naletta Burr, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, will be the facilitators of that session.
The focus of the session will be on establishing a broad community vision statement and the creation of big picture goals for economic development.
The topic of the March 18 session will be “Partnerships & the Backbone for Successful Economic Development.”
Burr, Hunt and Thiel will be the facilitators. Other local and regional and partners are also expected to be involved in that session.
This session will focus on the fact that the city is not the only one focused on economic development and will introduce several key partners and stakeholders to the Common Council.
City staff will lead a question and answer session about economic development – locally and regionally.
On April 8, Kane will facilitate the final session, “Waupaca Tomorrow, A New Direction in Economic Development.”
During that session, staff will present a Draft Strategic Plan for Economic Development.
Before the final adoption of the plan, staff will conduct several public open houses/community workshops to present the draft plan to the community and business leaders.
In addition, the process will include staff conducting individual meetings with Mayor Brian Smith and members of the Common Council and engaging several business stakeholders as a “working group” throughout the development of the plan.
“The council will establish the broad policy goals. Staff, with the help of the working group, will establish the action strategies,” Kane said.
With the Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce and Waupaca County Economic Development Corporation involved, Kane says he has a support team.
“It’s not just me working on this,” he said.
Through this process, the city’s work plan for economic development for the next three to five years will be outlined.
“It kind of forms my work plan, the initiatives I want to bring forward and work on as well. This document will set the city up for economic success at the end of the day,” Kane said.
In time, people will begin to see smaller initiatives completed and the face of the city change, he said.
Kane said community development is fostered by building within a community’s existing businesses and supporting the companies it already has.
The city will continue to target certain areas for larger development.
“It is about economic development as a whole,” Kane said. “It may be a different way of thinking.”