From the Communications Subcommittee,
Citizens Economic Development Commission
The Citizens Economic Development Commission was created to make a great city even greater through contributing to the improvement of its economic foundation. One of the goals of the CEDC is to begin to think outside the box about issues that impact Edmonds’ economic well-being and extend our conversation to the entire Edmonds community. We want to start conversations with citizens that will assist them in making their decisions every day about what they want to support in our community. We want to be proactive so that we get information out before the sound bites take over and dominate the conversation.
We also have the goal of bringing accurate information to bear on policy decisions that affect Edmonds’ economic future. Frequent communication with the public and the City Council is important to accomplishing these goals, and the communications subcommittee was formed at the July 2011 meeting to develop and implement a plan for regular communication. We welcome feedback from the public so we know if we are moving in a reasonable direction.
In the past we have described the work of the CEDC in four areas. We worked with the City to assure a high level of citizen involvement in planning for the future of Five Corners and Westgate; we wanted as many people as possible involved in planning for their neighborhoods so they would support their future both politically and with their pocketbooks. We recommended and the City Council approved development of a citywide strategic plan and participated in the selection of the firm that will provide professional planning assistance. We worked with the City to get up and running the sale of the City’s excess fiber optic capacity at a price that benefits both local business and the City’s coffers. Finally, we are working on several fronts to identify opportunities to increase tourism.
Now we would like to bring you up to date on the next step in our first effort, a strategic plan. We on the Citizens Economic Development Commission would like to celebrate with you what we believe to be a significant step forward for the City of Edmonds. The Edmonds City Council has approved the development of a Strategic Plan. We believe that at last the City will decide on what its priorities will be for the coming years, and these priorities will be based on what we, the citizens of this fair city, consider most important for our lives. And soon we will all have an opportunity to tell our City’s leaders what it is we want for our hometown.
Let’s talk a little bit about what a strategic plan is, how we will develop one and how we can all help fashion its contents. A strategic plan serves as a community’s roadmap that will take us from where we are today to where we want to go in the coming years. The foundations of strategic planning are the statements we make that describe who we are, where we want to go and how we will strive for our goals and measure success over time. Done properly, a strategic plan will guide the City staff and City Council for where to invest time and money.
Unbiased, professional planning assistance is essential to development of a strategic plan. When the City issued a request for proposals, we were blessed with a grand total of 13 submissions from excellent firms. A team of a dozen people from the City Council, City staff, the Planning Board and the Economic Development Commission had the difficult task of whittling the number down to five firms to be interviewed, then the even greater challenge of selecting the very best from among those five. Ultimately we chose the Beckwith Consulting Group, a La Conner, Wash.-based firm. We were highly impressed with their experience with similar projects and what representatives of other cities told us about the usefulness of the product of their work over the years.
Key to developing a strategic plan that will serve as a solid road map for the future is that it takes into account a wide range of wants and needs of the citizenry, not just those who show up for their weekly three minutes in front of the Council. The process is also a great way to get factual information about the City out to the citizens so they don’t have to rely on 30-second sound bites. Beckwith is dedicated to transparency and honesty in the process, and they will offer lots of ways that everyone can contribute their thoughts by internet, by mail, in interviews, and in meetings. The public’s help will be needed early in the process, later to refine early ideas, and still later to assure the final product is ours. Finally, the citizens will be needed to hold our public officials’ feet to the fire so they work on our agenda rather than their own.
So please, we ask that when you receive a phone call or are asked to give your thoughts in an interview at the Farmers Market or are invited to a forum, don’t hold back. Make the time to share your thoughts on the future of Edmonds.
The great Yogi Berra said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you will wind up somewhere else.” Let’s not let Edmonds wind up somewhere else.
You can find more information here.
Editor’s note: The City of Edmonds will kick off a city-wide Strategic Planning process from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Sept. 14, and citizens are encouraged to attend.