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Regional Development. The 21st Century will be the age of the region. Communities that embrace a regional perspective on planning will outperform those that remain focused on localized issues and who envision their future from a position of narrow self-interest.

Challenges. A regional focus on planning and economic development requires that all sectors work together in partnership to attend to community needs and to capitalize on community opportunities. Public, private, educational, and not-for-profit organizations all have unique capabilities to contribute. At Smith Weaver Smith, we have identified three cultural transformations essential for resource development and economic and educational engagement in the 21st century. They are:

· A culture of abundance. We must move from a culture of scarcity to a culture of abundance. Many regions’ recent history is a story of loss and scarcity. Economic downturns, educational failures, and government shortcomings dominate the media. Yet other regiuona in similar, or worse, economic circumstances, have managed to convey a more positive message to the public and to potential investors. Successful communities will establish new principles:

  • Focus on recognizing and using community assets;
  • Value diversity in order to produce new knowledge;
  • Value local distinctiveness and character;
  • Seek regional approaches and relationships;
  • Play “an infinite game” not a “zero-sum game.”

· A culture of collaboration. We must move from a culture of competition to a culture of collaboration. The opportunities before us and the problems we must resolve require unprecedented collaboration both inside the university and externally with corporate, government, and philanthropic leaders. There is a history of competition between cities and regions within its borders. This competition impedes strong decision-making that could better position the entire state economically. Successful communities will make new rules.

  • Develop a shared vision of the region’s future;
  • Invent the management discipline of collaboration;
  • Abandon command and control in favor of shared decision-making;
  • Coordinate public, for-profit, and not-for-profit contributions;
  • Manage knowledge exchange as well as knowledge creation.

· A culture of entrepreneurship. We must move from a culture of bureaucracy to a culture of entrepreneurship. This will require removing deep-seated bureaucratic obstacles while promoting enterprise, exploration, and change. Many communities have a history of risk-aversion and preference for the status-quo. Given the speed of change in today’s world, successful communities need to learn how to take calculated risks in order to garner larger rewards.

  • Conquer the aversion to risk;
  • Wire the region to connect everyone;
  • Encourage unique-ability, strength-based organizations;
  • Promote social venture as well as commercial venture;
  • Develop industry clusters;
  • Teach innovation processes.

Collaborative Regional Planning: The Smith Weaver Smith Process


ACT ONE: IMAGINATION Establishing Vision Process: Convene stakeholder groups for collaborative activities to engage them in contributing to the vision and committing to the implementation of the regional plan. Purpose: To elicit input from all appropriate stakeholders; to create alignment around a shared vision; to disseminate specific components and commitments for that vision. Deliverables: Documentation of meeting discussions, confirmation of regional vision and mission statements; statement and key elements of vision integrating all ideas.

ACT TWO: INVESTIGATION Testing Vision against Benchmarks and Best Practices Process: Gather and synthesize all relevant research and appropriate data to temper vision with realism. Determine benchmarks, best practices, and assessment tools. Purpose: To integrate vision with practical knowledge; to broaden the regional knowledge base. Deliverables: Research, data, documentation of benchmarks and best practices.

ACT THREE: INVENTION Designing the Operational Plan Process: Create testable models of the strategic plan to achieve specific goals and objectives. Circulate model plans, test, refine, reiterate. Purpose: To define strategies necessary to lead to achievement of the vision identified in ACT One in accord with the quality standards established in ACT Two. Deliverables: Written statements of the proposed activities expressed in concert with vision, mission, and goals. Business and financial models.

ACT FOUR: IMPLEMENTATION Defining Management Criteria and Benchmarks

Process: Develop the operational action plans, including objectives, benchmarks, target dates, assigned esponsibilities, and the financial model/plan for sustainability. Purpose: To ensure that procedures are in place to implement and sustain the regional economic development initiatives. Deliverables: Draft of completed strategic planning documents with operational criteria.

ACT FIVE: INTEGRATION Marketing , Communication, and Assessment Process: Ongoing assessment of the plan’s components and implementation strategies; communication of these activities to the community at large. Purpose: To bring plans to life among stakeholders; to prepare background information to support a strategic marketing campaign. Deliverables: Annual reports; print and web-based materials related to the regional economic agenda and how each agency and citizen can fulfill an important role in that agenda.

For more information please feel free to contact:

Smith Weaver Smith Inc. 9100 Keystone Crossing Suite 100 Indianapolis, IN 46240

Phone 317.815.1170 Toll Free 1.888.503.6055 Email,