Collaborative efforts among organizations are critical for regional economic impact, especially when it comes to workforce. It’s been my experience that regional economic development success comes from strategic partnerships, and it all begins with a strategic plan.

At TPMA, we are about building community. Building community requires a collaborative mindset beyond the local level, but regional and state as well. Regions who are experiencing success know how to collaborate and break down barriers to make things happen. When in it for the long haul, a solid plan requires assessing an immense amount of data from a variety of sources.

It’s EconDev101 to work towards retaining community assets and look for expansion opportunities and growth. Each community has its own strengths, and by playing to those strengths, and to those of surrounding areas, regions can work together towards achieving some very impactful goals. In addition, community-based organizations are important for several reasons, not the least of which is serving diverse populations. Partnerships with community-based organizations facilitates opportunities for underserved populations who are frequently overlooked.

A quality company won’t relocate or expand into a region unless there is the infrastructure in place to support their workforce needs. Workforce initiatives heavily rely upon a variety of partnerships. Businesses, workforce development boards, educational institutions (community colleges, K12, training centers), and community-based organizations must all work in tandem to ensure the most optimal outcomes. Data analysis of quantitative and qualitative information helps guide a strategic plan. In addition to reports and filings, additional information may be obtained through stakeholder meetings, focused groups, or one-on-one interviews to assess the community needs.

If your data indicates new jobs and new skills will be required by area employers over a period of time, a collaborative effort across your educational stakeholders should ensue, to build career pathways. Educational leaders should already be listening to what employers need, especially at the career technical education  and community college levels. However, when building a talent funnel, K12 plays a key role with sharing possibilities of future planning. When  a student is in the last couple years of middle school or beginning high school, they should have a clear pathway illuminated for them by their career counselor.

When building career pathways, multiple stakeholders will engage to help facilitate options for the region. The type of workforce you will need is based on in-demand occupations and informs how many workers will be necessary to answer that industry’s call. If your research shows an  increase of people of color in your community over the next 5 years, it’s important to be inclusive and invite the partners representing those population to the table. This can be an opportunity for deploying community-based organizations to assist with outreach. Having a diverse demographic of populations contributing to your strategic plan can make the difference between filling hiring needs and addressing unemployment, and wasting time and energy on a doomed plan .

It’s important to share the findings, in this case, of possible career pathways within a region, and by sharing this information, a community builds support and interest. The buy-in for the plan should encompass parents, students, and the community as a whole so there is a common understanding of the plan and the intended outcomes, which are future jobs available in the area. This all begins with utilizing data, and then getting people enthusiastic about the possibilities so they know what’s available in their community in the very near future. By utilizing the data in this advantageous way, strategically, the funding stays in community and plays into the ecosystem.

We at TPMA help communities optimize their potential and we do a great deal of this through partnership facilitation. Having a collaborative mindset is key and by eradicating organizational silos, we help regions achieve their goals, enabling successful outcomes.


About the Author 

Vicki Thompson 

Senior Project Consultant