How to Write a County Economic Development Plan (Step-by-Step)

  • By: Tara Astbury
  • March 27, 2024
a group of diverse people sitting together discussing ideas

Developing a county economic development plan requires careful consideration and strategic planning. Whether you serve as a government official, an economic development professional, or a city manager, creating a comprehensive and effective economic development strategy is essential for fostering growth, attracting investment, and improving the overall wellbeing of a county’s residents.

This step-by-step guide outlines the process of crafting a county economic development plan, covering everything from initial research to implementation and monitoring. 

What is a County Economic Development Plan? 

A county economic development plan is a blueprint for guiding and growing the economic prosperity of a specific county. It serves as a roadmap, outlining strategies and actions to achieve economic goals that benefit the entire community. But it’s much more than just a static document; it’s a living, breathing document that evolves alongside the county’s economic landscape.

The document encompasses various key components:

  • Economic analysis: Thorough assessment of the county’s current economic landscape, identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. 
  • Goal setting: Clear and measurable goals for economic development, such as job creation, business expansion, infrastructure improvement, and workforce development. 
  • Strategies and initiatives: Specific strategies and initiatives to achieve the established goals. These may include business attraction and retention, workforce training programs, and supporting entrepreneurship and innovation. 
  • Implementation plan: Action steps, responsible parties, timelines, and resource allocation. 
  • Monitoring and evaluation: Mechanism for monitoring progress, evaluating the effectiveness of the implemented strategies, and making necessary adjustments. 

How to Write a County Economic Development Plan 

Crafting a comprehensive and effective county development plan requires a thoughtful and inclusive approach, integrating input from various stakeholders, including government officials, community members, businesses, and environmental experts. In general, the process follows these steps. 

1. Community Assessment 

Start by assessing the current state of the community. This involves gathering data on demographics, infrastructure, land use, and environmental conditions. Conduct surveys, focus groups, and public meetings to understand community needs, priorities, and aspirations. Involve businesses, residents, nonprofit organizations, and government officials in the assessment process.

2. Goal Setting and Visioning 

After completing the community assessment, you need to establish clear goals and a compelling vision for the community’s economic development. Charting the desired future involves:

  • Vision statement: With the help of your city clerk, craft a concise and inspiring statement that articulates your community’s long-term economic aspirations. What do you envision for the future prosperity and wellbeing of your residents?
  • Goals and objectives: Translate the vision into concrete, measurable goals. Engage stakeholders to specify areas you want to improve, like job creation, business growth, income levels, or infrastructure development. 
  • Priorities: Determine which goals are most critical and should be addressed first, considering available resources and feasibility.

3. Market and Industry Analysis

As a county or city administrator, you need to conduct a thorough market and industry analysis to fully understand the economic opportunities and challenges within the community. Assess your community’s competitive advantages and disadvantages compared to similar communities. Identify unique selling points and potential areas for improvement.

Analyze regional and national industry trends to identify promising sectors with growth potential. Consider relevant factors like technology advancements, consumer preferences, and environmental regulations.

Define specific industries or types of businesses you want to attract based on your community’s assets, goals, and market analysis.

The information you gather helps you understand the economic dynamics and market forces at play, guiding you on making informed decisions about economic development strategies and initiatives. 

4. Action Planning 

Next, translate the goals and strategies you identified in the county economic development plan into actionable steps and initiatives. Outlines specific strategies, policies, and projects to achieve the goals set in the development plan. 

This may include land use regulations, infrastructure improvements, economic incentives, and environmental conservation measures. Ensure the action plan is realistic, feasible, and aligned with the community’s vision and goals.

5. Implementation and Monitoring

Finally, assign responsibilities, allocate resources, and establish timelines for plan implementation. Regular monitoring and evaluation are essential to track progress, identify challenges, and make adjustments as needed to ensure the plan’s success.

eScribe Powers Effective Counties

The economic development planning process requires careful consideration of the community’s needs, opportunities, and challenges. By following the above steps you can craft a comprehensive plan that lays the groundwork for sustainable economic growth and prosperity. 

eScribe provides a full toolkit of county meeting management tools that can benefit any community on the rise. Whether you are a county council, a nonprofit board of directors, or an organization of residents working together on a community development plan, you can benefit from the useful features of the eScribe meeting management platform.

Ready to see how eScribe helps municipalities streamline operations and enhance local governance? Check out the City of Greensboro Case Study.