The 2023 CREC Policy Academy for state and regional economic development leaders seeking to improve their strategic collaboration is in full swing. 

Through the Academy, six state teams – Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin – are embarking on a process to better align the strategies and actions of their states, Economic Development Districts, and stakeholders. At an April kick-off meeting hosted by the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness, representatives from the US Economic Development Administration and the National Association of Development Organizations emphasized the value of alignment in economic development organizations for improving outcomes. Each of the six teams then worked to create a common baseline and craft a framework to implement and sustain the process transformation necessary for long-term strategic alignment. 

During the one and a half day meeting, all six teams made significant strides toward crafting a vision to guide their work as they strived to better align their economic development ecosystems. Initial visions of alignment benefits were wide ranging and included improving economic resiliency, fueling rural prosperity, deepening relationships, creating a collective statewide vision for economic development, and more. Teams also identified member roles and made initial steps toward developing workplans to guide their efforts over the next few months.

Since the kick-off meeting, teams have begun to identify ways to move the alignment needle. Each team is working closely with the CREC facilitation team during the summer months to finalize their workplan and begin work on the nuts and bolts of their plan using this guiding framework. Plan elements are expected to address communication channels, organizational structures, timelines, asset maps, articulation of priorities, and more. The state teams will reconvene in the fall to share their stories and provide progress updates. 

The CREC Policy Academy is laying the groundwork for stronger relationships and collaboration in economic development. By fostering collaboration, the Policy Academy aims to ensure more impactful and coordinated economic development initiatives that drive sustainable change in the economic development landscape.

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Portions of this article originally appeared on the State Economic Development Executives Network website under the heading for State-Local Alignment. Please note that the materials included on the SEDE Network’s State-Local Alignment webpages were prepared by the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness using Federal funds under award ED21HDQ3070060 from the 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 Economic Development Administration or the U.S. Department of Commerce.