What is a Strategic Plan?

In the past two decades, the City of Edmonds has engaged the public in a variety of efforts to shape the community’s future via the City of Edmonds Comprehensive Plan, Transportation Plan, Economic Development Plan, Parks, Recreation and Open Space Plan, the Community Cultural Plan, etc., and specific community projects. This being said, an overarching comprehensive strategic planning and visioning process for the community has not been accomplished. Nonetheless, in recent years, there has been increasing interest in creating a community wide strategic and vision plan.

To understand why a community-wide strategic planning effort is such a priority, it’s important to understand what a strategic plan is and as importantly, what it is not. The foundations of strategic planning are statements the City makes that describe WHO we are, WHERE we want to go, HOW we will strive for our goals and MEASURE success over time. While the City of Edmonds plans on many levels, primarily for elements tied to the City Comprehensive Plan, and while these elements involve strategic planning for particular areas, an overall city strategic plan is different: it serves as a community’s roadmap and is used to prioritize initiatives, resources, goals, and department operations and projects. As such, it helps prioritize and organize efforts based on community consensus within an observable and trackable timeline. In this way, a strategic plan guides near-term progress towards achieving long-term visions.

Having an adopted strategic plan is as important to a community’s future as architectural plans are to building a home. A Strategic Plan is a crucial tool for city decision makers and can be used to shape decisions by establishing a framework for setting priorities and informing leadership about citizens’ priorities. It is a tool that helps ensure the most effective use of a city’s limited resources by focusing the resources on key priorities. Developed in concert with its citizens and various stakeholders, a strategic plan helps city leaders allocate limited resources to programs that matter most to a community. An Economic Development Commission Strategic Planning Process Initiative Report, prepared by the Edmonds EDC Strategic Planning and Visioning subgroup and endorsed by the Edmonds EDC provides an overview of the purpose of preparing a strategic plan.

Click here for more information on strategic planning and examples from other organizations.