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Will our Own Energy Drive the New Community?
September 28, 2011 - Ernest Hohmeyer
I read with interest, the work being done in Lake Placid on their comprehensive plan. It reminded me of a similar conversation in Saranac Lake and about community planning in general.
A Plan to Plan
In particular, on the community economic front, there have been numerous efforts related to spurring our local economy. These include the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS), revitalization planning in Tupper Lake, tourism planning by ROOST (I still can't quite sit on this name!), county economic plans and now the one being developed by the North Country Regional Economic Development Council.
There are so many plans, as a business person, I need a business plan to understand the plans.
Don't get me wrong, most of these exercises are needed and I myself have worked with communities to create plans. Perhaps as a citizen, we misunderstand what the true intent of these different plans is. A comprehensive plan is meant to create an overall roadmap for a community. Community economic plans help to identify the types of industry that a locality has determined it needs. Sometimes there is an assessment on the strengths and weaknesses that a community has in terms of its capability to go after these business opportunities.
However, it is often not the focus of these plans to market our community for the types of economic development opportunities suggested in these reports. They often do not detail how we are going to go after these businesses, what our message will be and how we will follow-up.
Further, sometimes there seems to be a disconnect between the business opportunities suggested by these plans and our existing businesses. As we identify business opportunities, do we work enough with our existing businesses to provide them with sufficient assistance with developing business and financial plans on how they may create some of these job generating ideas?
Is there a way to bring some of these economic plans down to earth or at least downtown?
A typical entrepreneur is always trying to determine how their business is performing, what are some of the challenges and new opportunities? What if we were to take some of these community plans and actually develop business plans that may encourage our existing entrepreneurs to undertake some of these opportunities as identified by the community? For many of us, does it not make us feel good if we believe our business provides a community service that a town has indicated it needs?
Finally, could we take these business plans that are derived from our community assessments and develop a financing and investment strategy?
In a nutshell, could we take the multitude of community plans and take the next step by developing business and investment plans?
Of course, all of this means nothing if we do not create a targeted marketing plan to go after these suggested business opportunities.
I always have trouble understanding how locally we can spend millions of dollars on infrastructure and yet we cannot commit substantive dollars towards marketing our region. A sustained and focused effort on creating new business opportunities would help to pay for that infrastructure. It always seems to be somebody else's responsibility.
Perhaps it is based on the thinking that “I don't understand how best to market our community, so I am not going to suggest we spend money doing it.” After all, everyone can see the results of a new road but it is much more difficult to gauge the path of marketing investments.
Once again though, all around us are the energies of the business community. Not all of us may totally understand marketing either. We have no choice though as without marketing most us would not survive. So perhaps with lessons learned we may be a connection for ideas. First, we need to determine if there is a will. If so we will find a way.
A New Energy?
There is a new thinking out there that may help us. It also may not require overly significant monetary investments. There may be a correlation on how to use energy “frequencies” and “vibrations” for individual wellness to enhancing community growth.
Say what? I know you are probably drinking a cup of coffee and taking a load off your feet for a few moments while you read this trying to figure out what am I talking about?!
There is an emerging discussion out there about energy and no, it’s not the fossil fuel kind. Some of this literature goes something like this: Our own bodies are energy or electrically charged source. The earth itself has its own energy and magnetic fields that some suggest we are connected to. We have all heard about the potentially apocalyptic 2012. Some have suggested this may be a cataclysmic change while others have said we will rise to a new form of consciousness. Books such as the “Alchemy of Nine Dimensions: 2011/2012 Prophecies & Nine Dimensions of Consciousness” and “Frequency: The Power of Personal Vibration,” fill our own family living room. Even my own wife, a chef, is studying the “vibrational” nature of foods and how it may lead to better wellness.
I do not claim to understand any of this. I have enough trouble understanding the “vibes” of my own three teenage children. However, we as residents often talk about the “energy” of the community or how it's important to keep the “buzz” alive.
A New Strategy?
In business development marketing, it used to only be about infrastructure accessibility, population, relocation costs and tax incentives. Speaking of plans, there were a multitude of federal, state and regional studies as well as multiple “site” publications that rank communities based on these attributes. A new category was eventually added called “quality-of-life.” Now there is discussion on how to quantify a communities “feel” and hang onto your hat - its energy.
So where does energy come from? There are a multitude of theories including volunteerism, consensus on community direction, cohesiveness and a healthy relationship between residents and nature. All told this is part of a, oh no not another touchy-feely word: a holistic sense of place. Institutions such as United Nations and magazines like National Geographic Traveler our ranking tourism communities around the world based on this type of approach.
We often talk about the evolution or revolution of our earth and its species. We too are a species and perhaps we are evolving toward a new energy or level of consciousness. I do not know for sure but you even hear it with our sports teams on how mentally a negative energy is built up that is difficult to correct in today's athlete. “It’s all in their head” you hear them frustratingly say. Anyone a Boston Red Sox fan?! How is a culture of winning created that some sports teams seem to maintain? How do you harness this for others?
Is it possible to take advantage of this new thinking of “community energy” and turn it in to a focused economic development strategy?
Tune in next time. Just don't mind me; my own consciousness may be lower than yours. I just hope that attaining levels of consciousness does not become the 22nd century regulatory, economic and social strata. I may be regulated to the consciousness of a lower life form.
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