Strategic Plan Progress Evaluation
REDI - Regional Economic Development, Inc.
REDI is the economic development organization for Columbia and Boone County, Missouri. Founded in 1988 when community leaders recognized the need to collaborate to attract, expand, grow, and support local business, and preserve the area’s exceptional quality of life, REDI serves as the Economic Development Department of the City of Columbia, and is funded by the City of Columbia, Boone County, the University of Missouri, and more than 100 local businesses and municipalities to coordinate the area’s economic development and entrepreneurship activities.
In the fall of 2020, Fourth Economy worked with REDI to facilitate a strategic planning process for the organization and for economic growth in Columbia and Boone County, Missouri. Throughout the process, REDI and its partners considered what is needed to grow and maintain a successful regional economy. The resulting 3-year plan outlined what REDI as an organization should be doing to address critical economic challenges and opportunities in Boone County.
As their Strategic Plan enters its final year of implementation (2024) we were engaged to formally assess its success to date and evaluate the thematic areas around which to focus the organization and its partners’ efforts as it starts preparing for it’s next strategic plan (2025-2027).
This strategic planning process included an in-depth analysis of economic and demographic data; a review of prior planning efforts for Columbia and Boone County; interviews conducted with nearly 30 key community stakeholders; four build sessions that each engaged over 30 practitioners and partners in brainstorming strategies for regional economic development; and working meetings with organizations and individuals whose partnership will be critical to implementing the strategies described in the plan. This high level of stakeholder engagement in the planning process was purposeful, and an acknowledgment that true collaboration among organizations is critical for the region to achieve its goals. The project was also supported by a Steering Committee of business, education, and community leaders who helped ensure the plan reflected local priorities, meeting with the planning team, reviewing draft documents, and providing timely and critical feedback.
Throughout the process, REDI and its partners considered what Boone County needs to grow and maintain a successful regional economy, as well as what REDI as an organization should be doing and partnering with others on to address critical economic challenges and opportunities in the coming years. Three critical themes emerged that shaped the strategies developed in the plan:
Talent is a key component of economic growth. Going forward, Boone County’s competitiveness is going to depend on its ability to attract and retain skilled talent.
underlying all efforts to pursue economic growth must include the goal to advance equity and diversity, to ensure economic benefits are shared by all.
Partnerships are essential to cultivating successful economic development. REDI will engage with partners on an ongoing basis to achieve the goals contained herein and fulfill its mission.
The resulting strategic plan is a catalyst for REDI and its partners to chart a course toward an inclusive economy that boasts more opportunities for all and positions Boone County as an in-demand place for talent and business to thrive. It details specific initiatives the REDI will lead on behalf of the region to respond to the above themes, as well as other important initiatives that REDI will support partner organizations taking on, some of which are underway just months after the plan was approved. The planning process also highlighted the need for greater optimization of staff resources and one additional VP-level position at REDI to fully pursue these themes and implement the strategies in a meaningful and effective way.
Columbia & Boon Counties, MO