Economic Development Strategic Plan
The final draft of the 2014-2018 Strategic Plan was presented to the Common Council August 5, 2014. A summary of the process and it can be found below:
The City of Waupaca is committed to a high quality of life by developing a strong business community, strong workforce, and strong place-based economy for today and tomorrow.
The City of Waupaca seeks to establish a new direction by being transformational in thinking, identifying opportunities to differentiate Waupaca locally and regionally as a community, and ensure continued growth of a diverse and sustainable economy for residents, seasonal visitors, and businesses.
City of Waupaca 2030 Comprehensive Plan
In October 2007 Waupaca completed its 2030 Comprehensive Plan. During its conception it was intended to act as a guide for community decision making for the next 20 to 25 years. Meeting the requirements of the State’s Comprehensive Planning Law, the comprehensive plan is based on four fundamental questions: where is the community now, how did the community get here, where does the community want to be in the future, and how does the community get where it wants to be. A key component of answering these questions is economic development. The 2030 Comprehensive Plan provides an economic characteristics summary for the City of Waupaca, analyses of its strengths and weaknesses, goals and objectives, and policy recommendations. Broadly defined, recommendations include supporting new business development efforts, encouraging industries that provide educational and training programs and provide higher paying jobs, working with and participating in local and regional groups, and promoting the retention and expansion of existing businesses through public and private means.
The Economic Development Strategic Plan acts as an extension to the 2030 Comprehensive Plan. It shares the community vision presented in the Comprehensive Plan, but provides updated answers to questions presented, using new information and the experiences of the past 10 years since efforts first commenced for the Comprehensive Plan. Furthermore, the Economic Development Strategic Plan provides more definitive goals and expectations for the Community and Economic Development Department and the City of Waupaca, while still aligning itself to the Comprehensive plan.
As the City of Waupaca moved forward with the Strategic Plan and summarized the competitiveness of the community, it became increasingly evident of the importance of reflecting on what main principles the City has held and should continue to hold moving forward. Although economic development principles are found in every community, allowing for possible comparable principles, the City of Waupaca strives to have its principles reflect the present community, with its unique values and characteristics.
Financially Stable: oftentimes sound economic development fails to happen in a community because of a lack of funding. It is critical that the City of Waupaca, with its partners, be solvent and not dependent on government subsidies, particularly for everyday maintenance. For long term financial commitments the City must also have a proper tax base and resources to help guarantee projects come to fruition.
Partnerships: a successful community is connected across departments, with vested public and private partners, including those across the region to ultimately create community interdependence. This interdependence allows groups to voice ideas and concerns, ultimately unifying interests and pooling resources. Such groups can include residents, private businesses, and regional governmental agencies.
Vibrant and Diverse: the City must have a local economy that is built on a variety of businesses. This occurs by supporting sound business creation and expansion across a variety of types; whether manufacturing, service, professional, or retail. Additionally promoting diversity is crucial, with particular attention to different age groups, so that the City can be sustainable.
Customer Orientation: in order to be successful economic development initiatives must define who the customers are, what needs and expectations they have, and how to use input from them to implement specific programs. Customers may include businesses, nonprofits, and residents.
Comprehensive Strategy: it is crucial that the City have a comprehensive strategy that defines specific goals with regards to creating equity, a capable and motivated workforce, and overall quality of life for residents. The City of Waupaca—Year 2030 Comprehensive Plan can be found below and the Strategic Plan will further define goals and have community efforts line up.
Measurement and Evolution: the final principle is how do the City and its partners measure the action strategies and policies that have been implemented and how and when should they be assessed. The community is the expert, particularly on economic development, and the policies and plans must change based on what is being learned from it.
Session 1 occurred February 25, 2014. This session focused on establishing an economic baseline. Local and regional partners presented current economic data and trends, discussed aspects in which the City is strong, and what could be improved.
- Between Session 1 and Session 2 staff conducted individual meetings with the Mayor and all City Council members. Each session took approximately one hour and addressed individual perceptions on economic development and the general state of the City. A questionnaire was provided in January to allow each member time to critically think on topics and issues focused on economic development. This information was compiled by staff in an effort to narrow the focus and establish a baseline for the development of broad goals in Session 2.
Session 2 was held March 11, 2014 with the focus on SWOT analysis. SWOT analysis is used to better understand Strengths and Weaknesses and identify Opportunities and Threats.
- Strengths: characteristics of city that give it an advantage over others.
- Weaknesses: characteristics that place the city at a disadvantage relative to others.
- Opportunities: elements that the city could exploit to its advantage.
- Threats: elements in the environment that could cause trouble for the city.
Session 3 was held April 8, 2014 and focused on the “big picture.” That is, creation of a more cohesive understanding of the plan, with previously identified strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats being transitioned into achievable goals for economic development. Staff brainstormed goals and objectives. Further defining the intent of each goal, objectives can be seen as a game plan for each goal.
Session 4 occurred May 13, 2014 and was an extension of Session 3. This session’s outcome was an achievable schedule, which outlined the five year plan. Furthermore, it identified key partners and assigned tasks to stakeholders throughout the community and region. General themes were also established:
- Regular Site Visits
- Market Analysis
- Community Development and Tourism
- Downtown Signage
The final session, Session 5, occurred June 10, 2014. It featured the presentation of the Draft Strategic Plan for Economic Development by staff to the Common Council. The presentation outlined the City’s five year plan for economic development and assigned tasks to be completed by the Community and Economic Development Department and pinpointed which objectives would be accomplished each year, as well as the budgetary needs of each.
The draft presentation included six distinct goals that the City of Waupaca and its partners will focus on for the next five years. Each is listed below in matrix form, providing a detailed list of what each goal’s objectives are as well as a time frame for each objective and the estimated budget requirements for each.
Maintain Existing Businesses and Diversify Local Economy:
- Foster relationships with regional, large, and small businesses
- Develop business round table meetings
- Create small business council
- Publish year-end report and hold summit
Develop a Competitive and Business Friendly Environment:
- Establish Community Development Authority (CDA)
- Improve relationships with local and regional assistance agencies
- Revise zoning code to be more streamlined and user friendly
- Improve and fast-track commercial and industrial application permit processes
- Continue revision of City Community and Economic Development Website
- Research incubator, co-sharing, and co-work spaces for aspiring entrepreneurs
Market Developable Land:
- Conduct market study: Trade Area Analysis/LQ Analysis to identify target industry clusters
- Establish local and regional online directory of commercial and industrial properties
- Create home ownership and neighborhood reinvestment programs
- Increase City presence at trade shows and business networking events
- Connect with site selectors and developers to highland land and business opportunities
- Develop marketing materials
Improve Communication on Economic Development Initiatives
- Publish monthly economic development newsletter and year-end report
- Promote bi-monthly blog and social media
- Develop and maintain relations with land owners and commercial brokers
- Invite legislators to local council meetings
Strengthen Partnership with outside local, regional, and State agencies:
- Partner with agencies to promote, existing, and develop future, programs
- Hold yearly summit of policy makers
- Establish localized online job board
- Expand marketing and promotional tools
Increase Retail and Service sector, including a Vibrant and Livable Downtown
- Complete ongoing Downtown/Main Street Visioning Committee with and support implementation of recommendations
- Re-instate Waupaca Main Street Program
- Foster local brand identity
- Enhance way finding signage
- Implement vacant storefront regulations
- Create downtown Business Improvement District (BID)
The 2014-2018 Economic Development Strategic Plan is designed to begin its implementation immediately following its adoption by the Common Council. Each year the City of Waupaca will review the entire plan and submit detailed progress reports to the Council and City departments. Continued annual review will allow staff to evaluate the plan’s effectiveness and make adjustments as feedback becomes available.
To view the unabridged Strategic Plan (with Implementation Matrices included) please click here.