To set the stage for a successful community development effort, your strategic plan needs to be clearly-communicated and well-defined. It also requires synthesizing your ideas to create a shared vision and strategy with a clear execution plan and projected outcomes. This will make it much easier to build support and focus your efforts. The plan will form the foundation of future grant applications, pitch decks, and presentations. It will be the core component for securing funding, planning your efforts, and maintaining a clear focus throughout the project.
This strategy template outlines the key concepts that will guide you forward, toward the goal of promoting entrepreneurship and innovation-based jobs. The major sections included are similar to those needed in any strategic plan, and are not unique to efforts focused on rural digital innovation. Your community may find it valuable to include sections not found in this template in your own plan; however, well-developed strategic plans should include at least all the components below.
Major components of a strategic plan
Describe how your community and region will be different as a result of your efforts to promote entrepreneurship and innovation-based jobs.
Explain the big idea or goal that is driving your team, and why what you do will lead to this future outcome.
Challenge and Opportunity
Describe the gap that exists in your region. Describe the problem you aim to solve and the opportunity you see.
Synthesize the major areas your team is working on into three to four focus areas (e.g., attracting remote workers, supporting local entrepreneurs, harnessing and aligning existing efforts). Emphasize how these areas leverage the relevant assets and partnerships in your community. These focus areas should correspond to the key drivers and elements of a digital economy ecosystem that your team is focusing on.
Describe the structure and membership of your leadership team. Who are the key players, and how does their expertise and experience set your community up for success? The goal is to show potential funders that your team has the leadership needed to ensure success.
Explain how you will execute your strategy to achieve results. For each focus area, include descriptions of key activities, relevant partners, and a timeline of these activities. This timeline should be a summarized version of your action plan.
Identify key performance indicators (KPIs) for each focus area that will enable you to measure progress and know when you’re achieving success. Include a mix of output and outcome measures, and use the SMART methodology.
Resources / Budget
Provide estimates of the resources needed to carry out the activities you’ve identified as part of your strategy. Consider including costs for categories such as staff and personnel, educational programming and materials, rent and facilities costs, communications and marketing, equipment and supplies. Show estimates for each category by year.
Briefly summarize why this team is positioned to make this happen now and what you will achieve. This section should act as the key point in your team’s pitch. The point is to convince potential partners that your concept is achievable and that they should invest in working with you.
Core elements of a rural digital economy ecosystem
Key elements within the community that enable a thriving economic ecosystem, which in turn creates a foundation to support Direct Drivers.
Digital employment and/or entrepreneurship occurs when, with support of Foundational Elements, communities can provide access to digital jobs, capital, and workforce development and support.
A successful digital economy is defined by the creation of quality digital employment leading to wealth creation through local entrepreneurship.
The Rural Innovation Initiative is a collaboration between the Center on Rural Innovation (CORI) and its community development sister organization, Rural Innovation Strategies Inc. (RISI).
This content was prepared by Rural Innovations Strategies, Inc. using Federal funds under award ED18HDQ3030013 from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce. The statements, findings, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Economic Development Administration or the U.S. Department of Commerce.