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A Plan for the People: Engaging stakeholders in economic development

Economic development programs are designed with the community in mind and thrive on community collaboration. The tools and resources provided to corporations and their employees create wealth and security and enable governments at all levels to provide critical public services. Identifying important stakeholders and having a stakeholder engagement plan significantly benefits successful economic development programs.

The benefits of stakeholder engagement are robust. In addition to helping ensure that the economic development process is inclusive and responsive to community needs, engaging community representatives in the development process builds trust and cooperation. Stakeholder engagement helps practitioners and local officials proactively identify and address potential challenges and conflicts. Engagement can happen in public meetings, surveys, or even stakeholder advisory councils; the right level and method of engagement will depend on the project or objective.

The following scenarios provide several quick examples of how communities successfully engaged stakeholders to achieve economic development goals.

The Power of Engagement: Real-World Examples

1.      Community Revitalization: Businesses, residents, and government officials in one community developed a plan to rejuvenate the downtown area. The collaborative effort attracted fresh businesses and residents.

2.      Industrial Park Development: Another community saw the formation of a stakeholder advisory council to guide a new industrial park's development. The council's input was vital in resolving potential project challenges, addressing concerns, and maximizing benefits.

3.      Infrastructure Improvement: A community was surveyed to gauge the needs of its residents and businesses. The results fueled a targeted infrastructure improvement plan to assist in efforts to draw in new companies.

Stakeholder Engagement: Best Practices

While every situation is unique, there are some helpful tips to consider when engaging stakeholders in your economic development efforts:

  1. Pinpoint who is impacted by the project of focus and establish a connection.

  2. Maintain clear, open, and consistent communication from the start.

  3. Clearly define the project's goals and objectives for all stakeholders.

  4. Address stakeholder concerns empathetically and with a commitment to finding solutions. (Remember, this process involves listening to and building trust with important community members.)

  5. Include stakeholders in decision-making, but remember, this doesn’t mean that you concede the final say!

  6. Foster trust and cooperation among stakeholders.

Hickey Global uses various mechanisms to find hidden stakeholders within communities and ensure each voice is recorded. We also use mapping tools to temper outreach throughout the project process to align progress-type communications with the influence and/or involvement levels of the individuals included.

Stakeholder engagement is your secret weapon for economic development success, and Hickey Global can help. We offer guidance on establishing comprehensive stakeholder engagement strategies tailored to your community's needs. We're dedicated to making your economic development journey seamless and efficient. Connect with us today to learn more about our services and increase your community’s odds of success.

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