Why Identify Community Stakeholders’ Needs For Economic Development Initiatives?

Why Identify Community Stakeholders’ Needs For Economic Development Initiatives?

July 17th, 2019

by Ian Smith

With the variety of stakeholders to consider and the competitive environment to attract wealth to a region, economic development agencies must have an organized approach to reach its objectives.  In order to do so, agencies must be in the appropriate position to identify and address the community stakeholders’ needs.
Identifying and examining stakeholders’ needs will assist agencies in the following planning phases:
  1.  Establishing Common Objectives
Gathering the necessary information regarding the needs of each stakeholder will help in many ways.  Primarily, analysing the needs will enable agencies to discover common elements which in turn leads to establishing common objectives.  As a result, agencies can be prepared to plan to meet these shared goals and achieving mutual outcomes within a specified amount of time. 
In situations where there are the different needs, agencies should not discard them.  The needs should be put aside and revisited in the future when resources are available. 

      2.  Discovering Solutions Internally

Results of a needs analysis report may produce an efficient way to discover solutions to existing issues.  By gathering the different stakeholders around a table, agencies have a great opportunity to discuss challenges and possible solutions to promote their region.  This brainstorming session should be open to everyone, however, it should be clearly stated that not every need will be addressed given the limited resources. 

The recommended solutions must be evaluated internally and be executed with everyone’s buy-in. 

      3.  Allocating The Right Resources

One of the main concerns that an agency should have when attempting to identify community stakeholders’ needs for economic development initiatives is allocating the right resources to implement their plan.  In an ideal world, agencies should reply to every need stated by the stakeholders, however; there are restrictions to adhere to within the plan.  Agencies should have their own approach or criteria to allocate the resources in a timely manner.   Some of the resources that should be decided upon must include:
  • Human
  • Marketing
  • Technical
It is important to remember that these resources can be adjusted based on a variety of issues such as:
  • How much time is needed for individuals in the agency to work on the initiative?
  • Does the agency have the right marketing tools in-house to address the stated needs?
  • Does the agency have access to the appropriate technology to support the initiative?
   4.  Setting Budgets

Although financial resources could be addressed in the previous step, it is best to address budgets as a separate issue.  

Setting budgets to respond to stakeholders’ needs is always contentious topic and challenge.  Knowing that not every project to deal with need will be funded, agencies must have a transparent process to setting budgets when promoting a region for economic development initiatives.   A possible framework may to rank the needs based on the possible economic benefits versus expected return on investment.

From migrant attraction to investment retention, economic development agencies are often placed in difficult scenarios when it to addressing to stakeholders’ needs.  Having a coherent approach in terms of  identifying needs can serve as an useful methodology to planning for initiatives that are aimed to address all common issues within a region.

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