Collaboration tops list of LCDC’s strategic plan
Leavenworth County Development Corp. board members said they hope a new strategic plan will give the organization a vision and framework to go forward in retaining and attracting primary businesses to the county.
The plan, presented to the board Thursday, Feb. 14, by Irv Jensen, a planning consultant with Iowa-based Smart Solutions Inc., and penned by an LCDC steering committee during the past several months, calls for a slight reorganization of the agency's structure and a rededication of its 22 board members.
It replaces the last strategic plan, which was adopted in 2004. The agency, which dates to 1981, is a private-public partnership that provides economic development services in Leavenworth County.
One imperative stated in the plan is for the group to focus its efforts.
"We need to clearly understand what our aim is," Jensen said, adding that if the agency's scope is too broad, little will be accomplished.
He proposed making the group's committees more task-driven than they are currently.
"The bottom line is that committees have a life that goes on forever, and task forces are designed to address a particular issue and then move on," Jensen said.
He envisioned four areas for small task forces: existing businesses, business recruitment, business creation and infrastructure.
In regard to infrastructure, Jensen encouraged those present to look beyond just bricks and mortar or roads and sewers. He suggested examining the agency's financial infrastructure as well, possibly using mechanisms such as venture capital and other options and incentives that "would be needed in the tool chest to make this product more desirable."
Task forces could look at specific issues, such as making improvements to existing business parks or extending utilities to a new development over a defined period of time.
Leavenworth County Development Corp. president Tony Kramer said reorganizing the group's committees would make it more productive.
"We have a lot of volunteer hours put in for LCDC," he said. "I want to make sure we're using those as efficiently as possible."
Also running throughout the strategic plan was a desire for members from different cities and the county to work together collaboratively.
Many of the roughly 30 respondents to a strategic plan survey - including Leavenworth County Development Corp. members, business leaders and government officials - had noted a lack of cooperation between individual city and county governments as a hindrance for economic development.
Jensen called Leavenworth County Development Corp. the "Switzerland" of Leavenworth County, where business and government leaders could put territorial attitudes aside for the good of the entire county.
Chris Donnelly, a Tonganoxie banker and chairman of the group's infrastructure committee commented, "It's pretty clear : When we get together as a county, we can move mountains, but when we splinter, we suck."
He encouraged all board members to personally recommit themselves to Leavenworth County Development Corp. or consider relinquishing their position.
"At the end of the day, if we're going to go to the next level, we've got to have 22 board members that are passionate about the development of this county - a team, not an independent or an individual," Donnelly said.
Kramer agreed and said during the group's next two meetings, the executive committee would conduct roundtable discussions focusing on goal-setting and identifying specific projects that can be worked on.
He added that an economic development summit similar to one staged in conjunction with Ingram's Magazine in 2006 could be on tap for May or June.
Jensen advised board members to remember in the coming months that "planning is just a moment in time. Planning as a process just addresses what you know today, but it doesn't address really a long-term perspective."
"I'm hoping that this (strategic plan) lays the groundwork to have a format for a process so that you're constantly updating your plans, modifying them as you go along," he said.
Leavenworth County Development Corp.'s next board meeting is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. March 13 at the Leavenworth County Justice Center.