March 2013 Update
By Bill Fleming
Many people have asked me what’s happening with the Focus Forward CI effort in Tazewell County. I’d like to provide an update on the activities of the Tazewell County team, which I chair.
I would characterize Tazewell County as early adopters of Focus Forward CI. Last September Tazewell County Administrator Michael Freilinger appointed a diverse group of economic development professionals and business leaders from throughout the county to our committee.
Our committee first met on October 4th. We met four times in October and early November, discussing our purpose and also planning the Tazewell County asset mapping event we held on November 13th at the Ashland House in Morton. After a wrap up of that event, we met a few more times to plan the vertical asset mapping event on Education & Workforce Development held on January 8th at ICC South in Pekin.
Since then we’ve met about three times each month. To date we’ve completed the following tasks:
We prepared a SWOT analysis of economic development in Tazewell County.
We took the regional list of unique assets and pared it down to Tazewell-specific assets. We also added a few more assets to the list.
We filtered the assets and, combined with industry concentrations identified our high value / high demand industry clusters.
We took the regional SMART goals and developed our country specific measurements. We even broke a few of those goals down to the municipal level for Pekin, Morton, East Peoria, and Washington.
As we work towards the July celebration milestone event, our Tazewell team has several important tasks yet to complete:
Finalize the draft of our county’s primary issues of challenges and opportunities
Plan a vertical asset mapping of the county’s TDL (Transportation, Distribution and Logistics) assets. The committee sees this as our county’s highest value / highest demand industry cluster.
Conduct additional rural outreach to ensure we’re getting input and buy-in from some of the smaller communities in the county who have not been actively involved.
Finalize the draft of our SMART goals, objectives, and action plans. We’ve already got a good start on this task. But we need to make sure it addresses our issues of challenge and opportunity, and that it is a balanced approach.
Invest time validating our work with our elected officials – especially those in the four large municipalities and the country board.
It’s been a great journey so far. The people involved on our committee have been working as a team as we’ve moved through this process. We look forward to July, when we’ll present the final plan.