The Importance of Strategic Planning

Strategic planning is the process of documenting and establishing a direction for your organization—by assessing both where you are and where you want to go. The strategic planning process gives Main Street program’s a place to record the mission, vision, and values, as well as long-term goals and action plans used to reach them. While the Main Street Four Point Approach plays an important role in the development of your program’s strategic plan it cannot be the sole building block upon which downtown’s recovery is built. Downtown development must be strategic, incremental, measurable and above all else, community driven. The Office of Downtown Development understands the challenges of rallying a community to support a cause that lacks an organized vision. A cohesive purpose can serve as a catalyst to focus your city’s efforts around a common unifying theme. This is where Community Transformation Strategies come in to play.

Community Transformation Strategies Workbook

This workbook was created by the Georgia Main Street Program as a resource to assist local Main Street managers and board members in identifying, selecting and implementing a transformation strategy for the downtown district. While the National Main Street Center has developed 21 “off the shelf ” Catalyst Strategies based on either a specific customer segment or industry/product, the Georgia Main Street Program has worked to develop 15 Strategies which we believe more broadly represent the needs in our local communities and the challenges we have seen directly impacting our Main Street Programs. While the Georgia Main Street Program’s Catalyst Strategies are thematic in nature, this particular element allows them to be suitable for communities of all sizes. These unifying themes may be adopted and applied more broadly across multiple retail sectors, industries and customers segments, serving both rural and urban communities alike.

From gathering data and hosting a community visioning session to selecting your strategy and measuring your impact this workbook has resources, examples and the necessary tools needed to guide you from start to finish through the entire strategic planning process.

A Guide to Hosting a Community Visioning Session

A community visioning session provides the local Main Street program an opportunity to invite a diverse and varied representation of the public to contribute ideas, recommendations, and resources to the vision, which will ultimately shape downtown. While the size and scope of the community visioning session will vary from town to town, the purpose it plays in work plan development remains the same. The ideas expressed in this guide will serve as a framework for the manager, the board of directors, and the downtown’s strategic plan for years to come. When done correctly it can encourage citizen buy-in and support, grow stakeholder engagement, and leverage financial resources. On the following pages we have outlined a step-by-step guide to planning your community’s visioning session keeping in mind that a visioning session should serve solely as an opportunity to listen and to gauge involvement. This is one of the first steps in a multi-step process that will shape your Main Street program’s strategic plan.

Work Plans

It is important for new managers to keep in mind that all designated Georgia Main Street Programs are required to have a work plan on file with the Office of Downtown Development. Work plans serve as an important tool to help guide the projects and scope of work for the Main Street program. A well developed work plan should help you focus on what’s important, measure your impact, and create accountability. So much of what happens to revitalize a downtown district originates from this planning process. Having a well developed, shared work plan with public buy-in, can help to grow city support and solidify the role the Main Street Program plays in downtown development. Below is an example of how a completed Main Street program work plan should look.

For a blank copy of the available work plan template please click on the download button below.