As we all know, Amazon’s announcement of its HQ2 is certainly a game changer in economic development. It challenges the traditional site selection process in many ways. And, it certainly places a lot of the negotiation power in the hands of the company.

The seven-page RFP lists eight unique drivers for a decision. While they serve to guide the final decision of Amazon, they also provide a threshold for consideration. A project of this size will force regions to assess their assets and take a good hard look at where they stand. Even if your region does not meet the threshold, it is still a good exercise to go through the motions of completing a response (even after they are due). It will challenge your economic development organization to reach out and work collaboratively with others, measure your region’s key location criteria, and determine the current capacity of your organization to respond to an RFP.

If you discover it challenging to define the key location criteria, that is an indication that it is time to assess your strategic plan. Furthermore, if at the end of the information gathering you discover that there is no positioning or branding that ties it all together, you now have a good foundation to begin a conversation about your region’s marketing overall.

As you move through the process, note the challenges, strengths, and opportunities you run into. Once you’ve completed the exercise, pull together your group of stakeholders/contributors and discuss what was learned, what worked, what didn’t work, and (most importantly) what was missing; if you can find a neutral party to facilitate your discussion, all the better. At the end of this process, you’ll have laid the groundwork for a new economic development strategic plan. Now, ask what’s next.

If it has been a while since your organization has gone through the strategic planning process or you’re just starting to think about it, finding a place to start and a way to finish can be challenging. Ady Advantage has facilitated and led communities and regions of all shapes and sizes in creating strategic plans. Have you planned lately?

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