By Paul Gorski
You are invited to help plan Winnebago County’s future and possibly get a free breakfast out of it.
Last week in the online version of this column, “Meet John Doe: Let’s build a strategic plan together, part 1 — SWOT analysis” (http://rockrivertimes.com/2013/10/02/meet-john-doe-let%E2%80%99s-build-a-strategic-plan-together-part-1-%E2%80%94-swot-analysis/), I started a discussion regarding local government’s role in economic development and asked for your help in developing a strategic plan for Winnebago County.
As part of that project, I asked for your help in developing a SWOT (strengths-weaknesses-opportunities-threats) analysis for the county. A SWOT analysis is a technique/process used to help an organization better plan for growth. Team members get together and list, usually in a chart with four boxes: strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats that have or might affect the organization’s success.
I didn’t have anyone submit suggestions other than “it is a good idea” and “I hope something comes of this.” So, I thought it might be easier for some people to participate face-to-face. So, I’m offering to host a breakfast for four Rock River Times readers interested in contributing to the SWOT analysis.
This breakfast will be held the morning of Saturday, Oct. 19, at 9 a.m. My treat. Submit your name by e-mail to: email@example.com or write this paper at 128 N. Church St., Rockford, IL 61101. Diners will be chosen by a drawing from submissions received by Tuesday, Oct. 15. Any resident of Winnebago County is welcome to submit a request. I do ask that you be ready to contribute ideas to the process.
You don’t have to wait until the breakfast to contribute. Post online or e-mail me what you think this region’s strengths, weaknesses, threats (to our success) and opportunities for success are. To be fair, you should identify at least one item in each category. No ideas are bad ideas, and don’t worry about prioritizing them — that comes later.
Examples: truck transportation services are a strength for the region; property taxes, a weakness/are higher than they should be for the area; competition from Chicago, Milwaukee and nearby states is a threat to bringing more manufacturing here; and focusing on growing our cluster of aerospace companies is an opportunity for growth.
Other strengths might include: a variety of public, private and faith-based schools to choose from; and we’re close to recreational areas, golf courses, and hunting and fishing locations. Or, you might suggest turning a weakness, high unemployment, into an opportunity: a ready and willing workforce.
For some of you, it might be easier to simply state what you really like about the area and what new things you would like to see happen here, or what old practices you would like to see go away. What keeps you here, or what threatens to make you leave? No ideas are bad ideas, as this is a critical thinking process.
This breakfast is my doing, and this paper doesn’t necessarily endorse or oppose the plan. Again, “Meet John Doe” is about community education and community building. Let’s see what we can do together. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or write me at this paper’s mailing address.
Paul Gorski (http://www.paulgorski.com) is a Cherry Valley Township resident who also authors the Tech-Friendly column seen in this newspaper.
From the Oct. 9-15, 2013, issue