The resulting strategic plan includes four short term goals, those being the focus for the remainder of 2012 and 2013. Here’s a brief rundown of each goal:
1. Formation of Committees
This seems like a no brainer; most development boards have sub-committees where Board members focus on particular aspects of development. We decided to flip this model on its head. We are forming committees that are composed of non-REDC members. We’re forming four committees, each with a different area of focus. The focus areas are Agriculture, Healthcare, Education, and Business Retention/Expansion. Each committee will be composed of people who are experts in the relative focus areas. For example, the education committee may include teachers, students, extension specialists, etc. I will setup a routine of corresponding with these individuals in an effort to gain insight that comes from beyond the walls of my office or City Hall.
Rural business-owners and entrepreneurs often do not have access to training and support that is needed to elevate their business, expand their market, or help them advance their entrepreneurial pursuits. REDC will offer training opportunities that are open to the public. Topic areas may include business plan development, marketing strategies, the use of technology, and technical aspects of business management such as employee regulations, taxation and bookkeeping.
3. Business District Vacancies
The ratio of vacancies to occupancies in our business district is lopsided. There needs to be some vacancies to provide an opportunity for business start-ups and expansions. There are approximately 10 vacant commercial properties in our business district. This number is too high. REDC will work to fill at least one vacancy per year until the vacancy/occupancy ratio reaches a desirable level. This may include business start-up assistance, expansion assistance, and recruitment of new businesses. This goal will require the use of LB840 funds, which REDC will begin receiving from the City of Ravenna in the next couple of months. However, the LB840 fund will take some time to build before it reaches a balance that can be used effectively to leverage capital.
4. Grant Writing
There are many financial resources available to rural communities and service organizations such as REDC. It is critical that we tap into these resources in order to be at a competitive advantage. While REDC has researched grants over the past several months, we have not been aggressive enough in doing so, nor have I been consistent in sharing my findings with my Board and City Council. We will continue to research the availability of funding and, when an opportunity is identified, pursue it with a vengeance.
In addition to these short-term goals are several long-term goals that I will discuss in next month’s Director’s Corner article. A copy of our strategic plan will soon be available on www.myravenna.com or can be picked up at my office at 318 Grand Avenue.
Last is a reminder that the current photo contest theme is “High School Sports”. The deadline for submission is this Friday at 5pm! Enter by emailing me your photos at firstname.lastname@example.org. You could win $100 in Chamber Bucks and between you and I, your chances of winning are VERY good!