Economic Development Strategy and Action Plan

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					Economic Development Strategy and Action Plan




                            Prepared for

               Future Forward Leadership Committee,

          Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy

       10th and 11th Congressional Districts of North Carolina

                      www.future-forward.net


                    Updated September 12, 2003




           Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness
                    3401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS-3B1
                             PO Box 407
                        Arlington, VA 22210
                            703-522-4980
                        www.creconline.org
                                                          Future Forward Recommended
                                                                    Strategic Action Items
                                                         Final Draft – September 12, 2003




                            Table of Contents
Executive Summary                                                                      i

Overview and Vision                                                                   1

Economic Drivers and Rationale for Action                                             3

Strategic Themes for Action: An Overview                                              5

Strategic Action Item: Collaborative Institutions                                     6

Strategic Action Item: Development Corridor Plans                                     9

Strategic Action Item: Targeted Regional Infrastructure Projects                    11

Strategic Action Item: “Education is How”                                           15

Strategic Action Item: People-Jobs Matching System                                  17

Strategic Action Item: Learning and Innovation Network                              19

Strategic Action Item: Targeted Market Research                                     22

Strategic Action Item: “Mega-Development” Project                                   24

Strategic Action Item: Regional Technology Park                                     26

Strategic Action Item: Regional Planning Task Force                                 28

Conclusion                                                                          31
                                                                Future Forward Recommended
                                                                          Strategic Action Items
                                                               Final Draft – September 12, 2003


Executive Summary
    In the summer of 2002, Congressman Cass Ballenger convened a 21-member
committee of business, government, and academic leaders to address the economic
challenges of 12 counties in North Carolina’s 10th and 11th Congressional District. With
resources from the US Economic Development Administration and the North Carolina
Department of Commerce, the “Future Forward” committee set out to create a regional
economic development strategy. The strategy serves as a guide for the future and
identifies critical public and private investments in response to significant economic
adjustments in the Future Forward area.
    Working with consultants from the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness in
Arlington, VA; the Hudson Institute in Indianapolis, IN; Eva Klein and Associates in Great
Falls, VA; and researchers at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, the Future
Forward Leadership Committee reviewed a variety of existing reports, interviewed more
than 150 people, and hosted 10 community workshops attracting nearly 400 people to
gain input, ideas, and information about the forces of change affecting the 12-county area.
    The Committee also commissioned a study of the area’s economy, documenting that
manufacturing employment in the 12 counties peaked at 149,000 jobs in 1994 and lost
nearly 25,000 jobs even before the current recession began. That research found that the
current economic climate is a consequence of structural changes occurring in key
industries. The study found that several industry clusters are at-risk, especially in the
area’s traditional strengths of textiles, apparel, furniture, packaged food products as well
as printing and publishing). These industries should be the focus of a pro-active industry
retention effort. Several industry clusters are large and growing modestly including
construction materials, metalworking and industrial machinery, motor vehicle
manufacturing technologies, primary nonferrous metals, and chemicals and plastics. The
area also has a few small clusters that are emerging as potentially important for the future
including hospitals, labs & medical services, travel & tourism, and pharmaceuticals and
medical technology. These growing and emerging industries should be the focus of
business recruitment and new business development activities.
   From this input and through a series of four retreats conducted between December
2002 and April 2003, the committee fashioned a vision statement about the region’s future
and identified ten actions aimed at achieving long-term economic success.
      To be successful, the Future Forward area must prepare itself for a fundamental shift
in its economic base. The Committee developed a future vision that seeks to:
       ⇒ Improve the education and skills of the existing workforce,
       ⇒ Foster a renewed sense of entrepreneurship and innovation in the businesses,
       ⇒ Promote a more diverse economy that includes a growing firms providing
         advanced business services, expanded retail and tourism, health care,
         education, and retirement services, as well as a more globally competitive
         manufacturing base,
       ⇒ Develop and protect urban and outdoor amenities in the area that will retain the
         area’s high quality of life and appeal to young adults and active retirees, and
       ⇒ Coordinate the area’s governance in a way that enhances regional
         collaboration in making public policy decisions.



Executive Summary                                                                    Page i
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                                                                           Strategic Action Items
                                                                Final Draft – September 12, 2003

    The Committee identified a number of recommendations, but focused its attention on
ten ideas that it felt should be the focus of a cooperative effort across the counties. Those
recommendations include:
        ⇒ Create a network of regional alliances among existing institutions to
             implement regional strategies
        ⇒ Identify transportation corridors as the main focus for future planned
             development
        ⇒ Identify targeted infrastructure projects that tie the counties of the area
             together and improve its economic performance
        ⇒ Conduct a campaign to increase the “value” placed on education by local
             parents and young people
        ⇒ Develop an improved people-job matching information system that serves a
             multi-county area
        ⇒ Establish a Learning and Innovation Network (LIN) that provides programs
             and facilities required to foster technology-based economic development
        ⇒ Conduct a market research study to follow up the Future Forward Economic
             Situation Analysis to identify firms in the targeted clusters for proactive
             economic development activities
        ⇒ Promote a “mega-development” project as a tourism/retail destination
        ⇒ Promote development of a “high-end” technology park associated with the
             Learning and Innovation Network
        ⇒ Establish a regional taskforce for encouraging planned development and
             strategic outdoor amenities, heritage and cultural assets and principles for
             municipal and county action along targeted development corridors.
    As a component of its recommendation to create a network of “super-regional”
organizations, the Future Forward Leadership Committee does not envision that new
entities would be established, but that incentives would be provided to encourage existing
entities to (a) work more closely together, (b) evolve with a broader vision and scope, or
(c) merge with other organizations to create more effective entities.
     The one unique entity that would be created would be the evolution of the Future
Forward Leadership Committee into the Future Forward Economic Alliance. The
Alliance would continue to bring together business, government, and academic leaders to
implement this action plan. It would not be an “operating entity” with staff and programs,
but would seek resources for a “Strategic Investment Fund” that would allow the Alliance
to provide seed funding for other organizations implementing big regional ideas such as
those included in this strategy. In addition, the strategy proposes to help organize a
Regional Business Roundtable, serving as a mechanism for business leaders from
across the counties and multiple industries to come together to discuss regional issues
and opportunities. Such a group would be instrumental in helping the business community
speak with one voice as it relates to key public policy concerns and to motivate business
involvement in workforce, education, and economic development issues.
     The Future Forward Economic Alliance is beginning to implement these actions by
convening key implementing entities to accomplish the goals set out in this strategy. The
Alliance also intends to monitor the activities and future performance of the area’s
economy.


Executive Summary                                                                     Page ii
                                                                             Future Forward Recommended
                                                                                       Strategic Action Items
                                                                            Final Draft – September 12, 2003


Overview and Vision
    Creating a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy for an area requires a
thorough understanding of factors that have determined our past and present, and how
existing resources can be used to shape our community’s future. During the Winter and
Spring of 2003, the Future Forward Leadership Committee, representing 12 counties of
the western Piedmont and Blue Ridge High Country of North Carolina1, talked with their
neighbors, friends, and colleagues to determine what we would all like to see happen to
make this part of North Carolina more economically prosperous.
    From that effort, the Future Forward Leadership Committee has crafted, with
significant input from community leaders and organizations, a vision for the future of this
area that will achieve:
        ⇒ Skilled People,
        ⇒ Innovative Firms,
        ⇒ Economic Diversity,
        ⇒ Cool Places, and
        ⇒ Smart Governance.
     The success of our area depends on our ability to prepare, attract, and retain Skilled
People in our area. These skilled people will constitute a future workforce composed of
well-trained or educated labor, capable of working in advanced manufacturing and
knowledge intensive industries that include our traditional industries (such as furniture and
apparel) working in non-traditional ways as well as in emerging new industries. In
preparation, our residents and leaders alike will promote and value a strategy of life-long
learning among our entire workforce, and make education and training a priority for all
citizens in the participating counties. We recognize that to achieve a skilled workforce, we
will need a wide variety of talents that may come from other places or social backgrounds
– including and especially our growing Hispanic, Asian, and African American workforce.
We embrace this social and cultural diversity because our collective future depends upon
the individual success of all our residents.
     Recognizing the impacts of the global marketplace and consequent competition, we
will foster Innovative Firms capable of competing in world markets. Our traditional
industries will adapt to the changing marketplace, investing in new technologies and work
processes as well as finding new market niches in new product lines. Emerging new
companies will germinate in the area and compete as effectively for business in Europe
and Asia as they do in the domestic US marketplace. By encouraging our existing
industries to take advantage of innovative technologies and best practices, we can create
wealth that will benefit our entire community.
    Economic Diversity involves developing strengths in all parts of the economy to
insulate our community against future economic downturns. We will grow our economic
strength in globally competitive industries – including our targets of advanced
manufacturing, manufacturing-related producer and distribution services, entrepreneurial
enterprises, and selected service sectors such as health care, education, retail, tourism,

1
  The counties included in this study area are Alexander, Avery, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, Iredell, Lincoln,
McDowell, Mitchell, Rutherford, Watauga, and Wilkes. The Future Forward “region” is a study area in which
the leaders have come together on an ad hoc basis to identify common challenges and solutions.


Overview and Vision                                                                                Page 1
                                                                  Future Forward Recommended
                                                                            Strategic Action Items
                                                                 Final Draft – September 12, 2003

and retirement industries. With more growing companies, relocated firms, and
entrepreneurial start-ups in these industries, we can develop a diverse economic base that
will provide jobs, wealth, and a sound tax base to ensure prosperity for our current and
future residents. We will also be less vulnerable to future downturns that may affect a
single industry or cluster of industries.
    We will become more of a Cool Place for people – especially next-generation
residents, workers, and visitors. Appealing to the next generation ensures that people will
want to come and stay in our 12-county area because of economic, social, and
recreational opportunities. We are advantageously located centrally between four
recognized urban centers – Charlotte, Greensboro-Winston-Salem, Greenville-
Spartanburg, and Asheville. These nearby urban centers provide easy access for our
community to a wide variety of well-developed urban amenities, such as theaters, concert
halls, museums, and up-scale restaurants. By integrating and building on these resources
as part of our community’s assets, we can appeal to knowledge workers, retirees, and
travelers most interested in these amenities. At the same time, we have relatively easy
access to natural and outdoor amenities – such as the Blue Ridge Mountains, Lake James
and Lake Norman, and Linville Gorge – which we must protect at the same time that we
take full advantage of the economic opportunities they (and other outdoor assets) offer.
From our unique location, we can cultivate our own local metropolitan and micropolitan
area assets as centers of economic and cultural activity while realizing our green space
and natural assets will be attractive to our future workers, residents, and visitors.
    To achieve our goals of economic prosperity, we must develop a new approach to
Smart Governance that involves regional action. We understand that we must think on a
larger scale than in the past. To achieve impacts and change in our future, we must invest
in projects and initiatives that will have significant regional impact, and we must be
prepared to work collaboratively to achieve those investments. To implement our Vision
and Projects in our regional economic development strategy, we must come together in
new ways – by talking about common problems and developing collaborative solutions.
To accomplish this, we recognize the need for new regional institutions that build on our
existing network of organizations and provide forums for us to take on significant
challenges together. By sharing our individual resources – combining them in some cases
and creating strategic alliances in others, we will be able to attain significant change in our
Future Forward area.




Overview and Vision                                                                    Page 2
                                                               Future Forward Recommended
                                                                         Strategic Action Items
                                                              Final Draft – September 12, 2003


Economic Drivers and Rationale for Action
    To be successful in transforming the 12-county Future Forward study region to a more
knowledge-oriented economy that can be successful in the coming decades, it is critical
that policy makers and citizens alike understand the key drivers for economic prosperity.
        ⇒ A high quality workforce with technical skills;
        ⇒ Opportunities for continuous learning in traditional and non-traditional post-
           secondary institutions and other knowledge assets;
        ⇒ Easy access to resources and markets to support the transfer of information
           and knowledge from outside the area through broad-band telecommunications
           and efficient inter-regional transportation (e.g., air, rail, or highways);
        ⇒ Amenities that make an area attractive to high quality workers and footloose
           companies;
        ⇒ Urban amenities such as access to sporting and cultural events and other in-
           door recreational events as well as social and professional networking
           opportunities suitable to the lifestyle of an educated urban worker;
        ⇒ Outdoor or natural resource amenities such as easy access to mountains,
           lakes, beaches, or other recreational or lifestyle opportunities;
        ⇒ A local regional culture that embraces risk-taking;
        ⇒ Capital to invest in risk-taking activities;
        ⇒ Social and professional encouragement for trying out new ideas;
        ⇒ Appreciation for and understanding of failure when risk-taking does not
           succeed;
        ⇒ Tolerance of a diverse economic and social environment;
        ⇒ A critical mass (or “scale”) of activity that supports “higher order” services;
        ⇒ Significant infrastructure assets including effective transportation services,
           water quality, educational institutions, and telecommunications.
    During the course of the study – through interviews and analyses of secondary data,
the Future Forward Leadership Committee identified a number of challenges and
opportunities related to these drivers on which the 12-county area could build a strategy,
including:
        ⇒ The significant impact that economic forces such as globalization and
          technological change are having on businesses
        ⇒ The area’s workforce and its strong traditional work ethic;
        ⇒ Availability of a mature, well-development financial capital marketplace;
        ⇒ Key transportation corridors of 1-40, I-77, US221, US321, and US421, NC16,
          NC19E, NC 150, and 226;
        ⇒ Knowledge assets as demonstrated by on-going secondary school reforms, the
          extensive and cooperative efforts of the community college system, and the
          proposed Hickory Metro Higher Education Center; and
        ⇒ Natural resources in the form of mountains, lakes, rivers, and other areas of
          natural scenic beauty.



Rationale for Action                                                                Page 3
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   During the interviews and additional analyses, several impediments to economic
growth that must be addressed include:
        ⇒ Quality of the workforce–as illustrated by low educational attainment levels and
          a perceived “anti-education” culture among many area residents;
        ⇒ Quality of available education–as related to the limited ability of local
          institutions to respond effectively to business needs and the overall limited
          availability of quality K-12 teachers as well as four-year post-secondary
          instruction in the 12-county area;
        ⇒ The influence of global economic pressures combined with federal policies are
          having on the competitiveness of local firms, especially in the traditional
          important textile, apparel, and furniture industries;
        ⇒ Local business’s unwillingness or inability to adapt to competition in global
          markets, to adapt to new management practices, and to change from their
          historical focus of competing on price rather than on quality, specialization, and
          innovation;
        ⇒ Fiscal crises affecting towns and counties were mentioned as challenges
          resulting from plant shutdowns and the state’s budget crisis;
        ⇒ Inadequate infrastructure planning due to the fragmentation of local water and
          sewer systems, and lack of success in achieving transportation priorities at the
          state level;
        ⇒ Lack of a four-lane north-south transportation/development corridor through the
          center of the area;
        ⇒ Barriers to regionalism based on a tradition of “county as region” and limited
          institutional ties across county boundaries; and
        ⇒ Quality of life concerns related to lack of urban amenities, rising health care
          costs, limited availability of affordable housing, and concerns about
          environmental degradation in the area.




Rationale for Action                                                                 Page 4
                                                                        Future Forward Recommended
                                                                                  Strategic Action Items
                                                                       Final Draft – September 12, 2003


Strategic Themes for Action: An Overview
    To address these challenges, the Future Forward Leadership Committee agreed on a set of
actions that fall into several categories representing important strategic themes:

Collaborative Leadership and Governance
    To accomplish scale in the responses to the challenges facing the Future Forward area,
public and private leaders must come together to demonstrate regional coordination in ways
that lead to regional solutions.

Developing the Area’s Scale and Improving Connectivity
    The challenges facing the area are significant and long-term. Responses to these
challenges must be big and bold. Likewise, development efforts in the future must be big and
bold. The leaders of the area must work together to channel individual efforts in a common
direction – creating “scale” – and affecting many or all of the counties – creating “connectivity.”

A Workforce Prepared for 21st Century Work
    The area’s workforce is not ready for the Knowledge Economy. This problem is
exacerbated by structural changes to our economy resulting from globalization, technological
change, and innovative business management practices that are forcing businesses to adopt
new global business models and respond to rapidly changing consumer demands. Answers to
this challenge must evolve from reforming the institutions that prepare the workforce, but it also
requires changing behaviors and attitudes of workers. Workers will need continuous skill
upgrades because they must depend more on their “heads” than on their “hands” to add value.

Innovation and Entrepreneurship
    The region has a tradition of entrepreneurial behavior, but that tradition has declined
significantly in recent generations as demonstrated by the lack of economic diversity in the area
and the use of traditional manufacturing methods in many industries. To recapture that
entrepreneurial spirit, local firms, workers, and potential business owners must change their
behaviors and attitudes about what they make and for whom they make it. In addition to
encouraging new business formation, the strategies also aim to assist existing firms in
becoming more innovative and flexible in responding to the demands of a global marketplace.

Targeted Marketing & Development
    If the Future Forward area is to compete in a global marketplace, it must develop a
presence in that marketplace. This effort is designed to identify opportunities for building an
image – whether linked to the success of surrounding regions or to developing a regional
identity – by implementing regionally significant projects to which public and private leaders can
point to as examples of the fruits of regional collaboration.

“Connected and Creative” Living
    As the counties in the study area transform their economies, they must also recognize the
demands of a changing workforce. “Quality of life” requirements are very different for new
generation workers than for older, more established workers. Also, economic development in
this climate will require embracing the environment as an asset and ensuring that growth is
thoughtfully considered in advance.
   The next several pages propose 10 actions associated with these six strategic themes.

Strategic Themes                                                                           Page 5
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                                                                Final Draft – September 12, 2003


Strategic Action Item: Collaborative Institutions
   Create a network of alliances to implement regional strategies built on existing
   organizations

Action Item Goals:
       Increase the number of regional collaborative projects.
       Increase the pool of funds for regional action.
       Create jobs and regional tax base from regional initiatives.

   Intermediate Evaluation Measures:
       ⇒ The formal creation of the proposed institutions.
       ⇒ The proportion of the Future Forward counties participating in the proposed
         institutions.
       ⇒ The dollars and staff available for implementing the proposed institutions.

The Challenge:
    This plan includes a number of “big regional initiatives” that require attention by
professional staff serving all or parts of the entire study area. The existing network of
organizations is responsible either for individual counties, existing regions (that represent
components of the strategy area), or a broad array of counties—some of which may have
no direct connection with the proposed ideas.
    All of the existing county-based organizations are inadequately funded and staffed to
meet the significant challenges facing the Future Forward area. Furthermore, the service
areas of existing organizations do not fully include all 12 counties that would be most
directly affected by the strategies being proposed.

The Response:
    In some cases, existing institutions could be used as the basis for creating a regional
collaboration while in other cases those institutions could serve as the platform for building
more regionally significant organizations. The leadership in the counties of the area
should come together to upgrade several existing institutions into regionally important
organizations or create new alliances to accomplish regional collaboration.
    No county or regional entity can be required to participate in any of these regional
entities or alliances. Each county or related organization must make the decision on its
own that participating in a regional collaborative is in its best interest. However, these
regional institutions would have authority and capabilities to bring together individual
counties in support of regional action.
   The organizations proposed include:
    Future Forward Economic Alliance: The Alliance’s focus would be to oversee the
strategic plan’s implementation, manage a Regional Strategic Competitiveness Fund (to
support strategic actions proposed and offer incentives to encourage local organizations to
work together), and monitor progress in implementing the strategy and achieving its vision.
Building from the current Future Forward Leadership Committee where appropriate, the

STRATEGIC THEME:                                                                      Page 6
Collaborative Leadership and Governance
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Economic Alliance would not implement any actions, but would provide resources and
support to organizations in the area seeking regional solutions to challenges. In the early
stages, the Alliance will require strong support. The members of the Leadership
Committee should convene a meeting of the chief elected officials and key business and
civic leaders to gain further buy-in to the concept of forming the Alliance and to any
proposed governance structure.
     Regional Economic Development Authority: The Authority would bring together
resources of a merged economic development corporation (based on voluntary
participation of counties from the study region), have legislative authorization to assemble
and develop regionally significant property and share equity (or tax) interests in these
projects among participating counties, as well as attract resources from appropriate state
and federal agencies and distribute those benefits to the participating counties. For
counties opting not to participate in a merged economic development authority, a formal
alliance of the individual county EDCs should be encouraged to provide the staff of these
organizations with a venue for sharing experiences and identifying collaborative projects
beyond those implemented by the Authority.
    Regional Business Alliance: The Alliance would be a multi-county roundtable of
Chief Executives concerned about the area’s economic future designed to influence local
public policies that have the most significant impact and provide private sector perspective
in economic development decision-making.
    Learning and Innovation Network: Built on the Hickory Metro Higher Education
Center, currently in place, the LIN would provide an array of customized education and
training services to job-seekers (through existing and new providers) as well as an array of
support services to businesses seeking to innovate their products or processes.
   “Super” Workforce Investment Board: The Super WIB is a formalized
confederation of the four workforce development boards serving the 12 counties of the
Future Forward area concerned about improving the efficiency of the job market and the
quality of worker skills in the area.
    Council of Governments Coalition: The COG Coalition is a formalized
confederation of four Councils of Governments in the area focused on ensuring that
regional planning occurs and regionally important public investments are achieved.
    Regional Tourism Alliance: The regional tourism alliance is a collaboration among
existing convention and visitors bureaus in the area to coordinate existing and future
tourism efforts. In particular, the alliance would focus on expanding the level of service to
meet the information needs of travelers, especially in the Foothills area. The alliance
would also collaborate closely with the High Country Hosts and other travel/tourism
entities in adjacent regions.

Implementing Entities Involved
       Lead responsibility:
       ⇒ Future Forward Economic Alliance
       Supporting:
       ⇒ Counties and municipalities



STRATEGIC THEME:                                                                      Page 7
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       ⇒ Private sector leadership – including the leaders of the EDC boards and other
         business leaders
       ⇒ Higher Education Institutions – including community colleges and universities
       ⇒ Workforce development boards
       ⇒ Councils of Government
       ⇒ Advantage West and Charlotte Partnership
       ⇒ North Carolina Department of Commerce

Time Frame
       ⇒ Within the next two months, a summit of interested county leaders and EDCs
         should be convened to discuss the role and make-up of these regional
         institutions.
       ⇒ Representatives from the affected organizations boards should endorse the
         Future Forward plan.
       ⇒ A 2004 work plan for each of these organizations should be put in place by
         December 2003.

Location
   The counties affected by each institution.


          Organizations & Alliances Required to Implement the Future Forward
                           Economic Development Strategy


                                                         Learning and
                            Regional
                                                       Innovation Center
                            Business
                                                      Evolved from Hickory
                             Alliance
                                                         Metro Higher
                          CEOs of Major
                                                           Education
                           Corporations
                                                             Center




            Regional Economic
                                         Future Forward
              Development                                               COG Coalition
                                        Economic Alliance
                 Authority
                                       Access to a Regional           Coalition of region’s
             Voluntary merger                                             Councils of
                                            Strategic
               and alliance
                                       Competitiveness Fund              Governments
             of existing EDCs




                         Regional Tourism
                                                         “Super” WIB
                              Alliance
                                                     Coalition of the region’s
                        Voluntary merger and
                                                      Workforce Investment
                         alliance of county
                                                             Boards
                           tourism offices


STRATEGIC THEME:                                                                              Page 8
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Strategic Action Item: Development Corridor Plans
   Identify transportation corridors as the main focus for future planned
   development

Action Item Goals:
       Increase recruitment among higher wage-paying firms.
       Increase tourism dollars spent in the area.
       Reduce retail leakage.
       Increase the number of urban amenities.
       Increase the number of regional collaborative projects.

   Intermediate Evaluation Measures:
       ⇒ Increase amount of planned commercial space suited to new and growing
         firms.
       ⇒ Increase awareness of ready-to-go sites and facilities across the study region.
       ⇒ Increase collaboration between EDCs to market sites and facilities.
       ⇒ Increase range of offerings and quality of marketing for ready-to-go reuse
         facilities.

The Challenge:
    The current development efforts are reactive and designed for recruiting industrial
prospects. However, the economy is transforming and demanding different kinds of real
estate product. At the same time, the quality of development along several of the area’s
corridors is not up to the standards that will be required to attract, retain, or grow
companies in the area’s transforming economy. Economies of scale can be achieved
through collaboration in developing and marketing the real estate products consistently
across the area. The area’s key highway routes offer significant potential to spur
development. While transportation improvements and major route realignments may be
required, the area also needs a competitive array of accessible, quality sites and facilities
linked by key highway networks to markets both north and south.
    Some sites in the current inventory may not be as viable as others due to their location
relative to existing transportation assets. To change the transportation network to respond
to the needs of these sites would require significant investments when the area’s existing
transportation system is in need of substantial investments itself. Rather than changing
transportation plans to fit the needs of a few sites, the challenge is how to design, develop,
and market existing transportation corridors for higher and better use. Like retail malls,
Future Forward leaders must plan developments in targeted corridors by identifying key
anchor businesses and prepare a variety of pre-permitted and infrastructure-served sites
and facilities.

The Response:
    Area leaders should develop a regional plan to position segments of existing highways
as “growth zones” for various targeted industrial, commercial, retail, amenity, residential


STRATEGIC THEME:                                                                         Page 9
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and conservation/heritage developments. Among the corridors that would be included in
these planning efforts include the I-40, I-77, US221, US321, US421, NC 19E and NC226,
NC16, NC 150, and a new four-lane freeway along US64/NC18. Area leaders should
come together to:
       ⇒ Undertake corridor analyses to determine market opportunities, best uses for
         various corridor segments, and appropriate timing for development.
       ⇒ Fully embrace complementary actions of individual counties necessary to
         succeed with a corridor strategy approach including:
           •   Strategic market analysis and development of a collaborative sites and facilities
               marketing plan.
           •   Planned infrastructure improvements at select intersections/interchanges, including
               both traditional infrastructure (roads, water, sewer) and telecommunications.
           •   Adoption of conditions and covenants to ensure planned growth at consistently
               high standards.
           •   Adoption of corridor zoning overlays, agreed-upon by all local jurisdictions.
           •   Identification of collaborations/agreements required with local infrastructure
               providers--municipalities, counties, water/sewer cooperatives.
           •   Identification of promising old industrial facilities for reuse.

Implementing Entities Involved
       Lead responsibility:
       ⇒ Coalition of the area’s four councils of government.
       Supporting:
       ⇒ EDCs,
       ⇒ Boards of Realtors and major commercial realtors, and
       ⇒ NC Department of Transportation, county or city highway departments.

Time Frame
       ⇒ Begin immediately, use experience with US Hwy 321 as a starting point
         (especially given the impact of recent closure between Boone and Hickory) with
         plan in place by July 2004.
       ⇒ Expand the marketing campaign associated with the 321 corridor between
         Lincolnton and Hickory in 2004.
       ⇒ Develop a timeline for developing Corridor Plans for each of the targeted
         transportation corridors.

Location
   Area-wide – with initial emphasis along US 321 from I-85 to Boone and later emphasis
on other routes




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Strategic Action Item: Targeted Regional Infrastructure
Projects
   Identify targeted infrastructure projects that tie the area together and improve its
   economic performance

Action Item Goals:
       Increase productivity and competitiveness of all firms.
       Increase broadband usage in business community.
       Increase recruitment among higher wage-paying firms.
       Improve available green space and air quality by increasing the amount of
       parkland, greenways, public access to water, historic districts, and clear air.
       Increase the number of urban amenities (e.g., computer cafes, civic theatre,
       public concerts, and indoor/outdoor recreation).
       Increase the number of regional collaborative projects.
       Increase the pool of funds for regional action.

   Intermediate Evaluation Measures:
       ⇒ Competitive cost, service and reliability of water, sewer & municipal services in
         targeted “growth zones.”
       ⇒ Competitive transportation reliability: same or better time to market, on time.
       ⇒ Number of “growth zones” with highly reliable electric and telecommunications
         services.

The Challenge:
     For small metro and rural areas the prevailing assumption has been: “Build and they
will come.” However, infrastructure provides a more subtle contribution to economic
progress. Instead, today’s economy requires access to infrastructure supplemented by
outstanding service and quality. Cost, convenience, reliability, safety and security have
increased in importance—thus the mantra: “Provide superior infrastructure services that
they might compete.” In operating environments that offer advanced infrastructure
services hassle free, firms can concentrate on market and internal factors that grow their
enterprise. For the parts manufacturer, the area must have highly reliable routes to get
product to market “just in time” regardless of weather. For the e-business, the area must
have electric power supply with virtually no downtime and reliable high speed Internet
access. And, all businesses require professionally managed sewer and water systems.
    Like other areas, the Future Forward counties face a variety of infrastructure
challenges; however, the most critical may be the limited regional consideration given in
setting these priorities. Reflecting the source of funding, decisions about infrastructure
investments are made at either a fragmented, localized level or a statewide or national
level.
    Reliance on these government funding entities requires fitting into the “categorical”
priorities of the various agencies, but may not allow the area’s leadership to consider more

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“strategic” regional priorities such as targeted transportation corridor development or
regional water or sewer needs. As a consequence, the area is peppered with a network of
small fragmented water systems that leave certain strategic locations underserved while
the costs of service in other areas may be non-competitive. Likewise, air service suffers
from being too localized resulting in seven local airports competing against one another for
general aviation and cargo and limited planning focused on serving air passenger needs.
     Environmental considerations are critical to the area as well, but area leaders may be
taking the natural, air, and water resources for granted. These endowments are managed
by multiple entities that lack an agreed-upon strategic vision to sustain high value natural
assets in the wake of development pressures. The Unifour counties have made significant
strides in creating an Early Action Compact (EAC) to address imminent non-attainment of
air quality standards, but these efforts are limited to a few counties and do not address
similar concerns that ought to be considered in averting potential future crises associated
with natural and water resources.
    Finally, the study region has limited available office space, wet labs, and high quality
work environments. Existing information about this economically vital space is incomplete.
This lack of emphasis on these types of development and the inadequate data reflects the
fragmented nature of the area’s economic development network. At the same time, area
counties must be concerned about the availability and cost of broadband Internet access –
especially for the business community, which will require this infrastructure to move data
rapidly as much as it will require high quality roads.

The Response:
    This variety of challenges requires a cohesive regional approach to setting
infrastructure priorities for the entire Future Forward study area. The regional leaders
should prioritize infrastructure projects that significantly enhance the regional economy as
a whole, while providing near term gains in construction jobs especially for those currently
laid off from manufacturing. The following criteria will be used in the selection of targeted
projects:
        Today’s infrastructure solutions are invariably regional in nature.
     Small metro and rural areas face unique infrastructure issues because the population
is more spread out, requiring more road, railroad, or telecommunications cable
miles/capita and offering smaller scale, often less cost-efficient water and sewer systems.
Like most similar areas the Future Forward area lacks tailor-made institutional
arrangements that can help address regional infrastructure problems, such as a common
financing vehicle or methods for developing multi-county project proposals. Federally
recognized “economic development district” overlaid with the existing COGs would provide
a venue for considering infrastructure planning in light of economic development needs.
Region D is already an economic development district recognized by the US EDA. Other
Council of Government regions should be recognized as Economic Development Districts
to ensure that on-going economic development-related infrastructure planning continues in
all 12 counties of the Future Forward area.
        Infrastructure investment must foster implementation of this strategy.
     While this area has its share of infrastructure problems, a most notable feature is its
broad array of infrastructure assets that can be capitalized upon as part of regional growth
plans. These assets include N-S and E-W interstate highways, operational freight
railroads, plans to expand passenger rail service, a regional airport and six (6) general

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aviation airports, greenway/bikeway systems, abandoned railroads offering potential for
further greenways and bikeways/tourist attractions, a picturesque system of rivers, lakes
and dams, and a well developed offering of Internet Service Providers. Priority projects
would enhance these assets and fit well with this long-range plan.
        Planning may be required to implement some of the most critical needs
        associated with major regional initiatives.
    The area’s leaders have a unique opportunity to shape the development path of the
Future Forward area for much of the 21st century by the way infrastructure investments
are made and coordinated over the next 10 years such as (a) a foothills highway route that
capitalizes on US 321/I-40/I-77 corridors in the short-term and follows, in the long run, a
new route along US 64/NC Hwy 18, linking I-85 near Spartanburg to I-77 near Elkins
through Wilkesboro; (b) water-sewer, transportation, and planned development associated
with targeted development corridors; (c) water resource planning for the Catawba River in
relation to reauthorization of Duke Power’s hydro and development rights; (d) planning and
development of business space (especially associated with a proposed “mega-
development” and technology park) with flexible office/ industrial space to meet the needs
of targeted companies; and (e) creating “sustainable growth zones” to support quality
tourism and other development in both the foothills and mountains that ensure growth
compatible with nature’s carrying capacity.
         Infrastructure investments remain a useful economic recovery tool to
         counterbalance the current business cycle.
     Infrastructure investments can be used to counterbalance the business cycle if they
are “ready to go.” When times are good, the private economy bids up the cost of capital,
and public infrastructure projects become more expensive. During a recession, a ramp up
of infrastructure projects provides much needed unemployment relief plus construction at
overall lower cost. Projects must be chosen that create jobs today, especially for those
laid off in the manufacturing industry. To ensure that regional infrastructure planning
continues for the longer term, the Future Forward Leadership Committee will advocate for
the creation of a regional strategic fund to provide partial funding support for regionally
significant projects, offering an incentive for moving these projects higher on the federal,
state, or local investment priority list.
    The Future Forward Leadership Committee has identified the following infrastructure
projects as high priority actions for the region:
       Replace Highway 321 Bridge over the Catawba River
       US 221 Improvements
       NC 226 Feasibility Study
       Brushy Mountain Parkway – Phase One of Foothills Parkway
       NC 150 Improvement Feasibility Study
       Highway 16 Improvement
       I-321/I-40 Interchange frontage road
       Hickory Airport Improvements
       Morganton-Lenoir Airport – Fly-in Industrial Park



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       Tri-County Morrison Field Industrial Park Complex (serving Avery Mitchell,
       and Yancy County
       Appalachian State University Millennium Campus
       Brownfield/Vacant Building Survey
       Fiber Optic Corridors Cost and Gap Analysis
       W. Kerr Scott Reservoir Water Project
       Catawba River Sediment Removal Project
       Western Catawba / Broad Regional Water Distribution System
       Regional Water and Sewer Utility Efficiency Studies

  A complete description of these projects and their rationale for inclusion in the report
may be found in the Future Forward Infrastructure Assets report.

Implementing Entities Involved
       Lead responsibility:
       ⇒ Infrastructure Committee of the new Future Forward Economic Alliance.
       ⇒ Local economic development districts coordinated through a consortium of the
          area’s Councils of Governments (COG Coalition).
       Supporting:
       ⇒ Infrastructure plan team involving the municipal and county engineers, district
          engineers from cooperating state agencies and utility planners.

Time Frame
       ⇒ August 2003: Finalize “initial target list” using local knowledge from the
         Infrastructure Committee of Future Forward and the “prospect list” created in
         the Future Forward Infrastructure Assets report.
       ⇒ 2003: Make grant applications for 2-3 major projects.
       ⇒ 2004: Prepare detailed infrastructure plan.

Location
   Area-wide – focused on making “growth zones” highly conducive to business growth.




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Strategic Action Item: “Education is How”
   Conduct a campaign to increase the “value” placed on education by local
   parents and young people

Action Item Goals:
       Increase educational attainment beyond high school for adults aged 25 and
       above.
       Increase population of 25-40 year-olds with 2 years plus of education
       beyond high school.
       Increase population of 50+ year-olds with post-secondary education.
       Increase the number of regional collaborative projects.

   Intermediate Evaluation Measures:
       ⇒ Reduction in the drop out rate.
       ⇒ Increase in the number of adults getting GEDs.
       ⇒ Increases in community college enrollment.

The Challenge:
    In the Future Forward study area, 29 percent of area adults aged 25 and older do not
have a high school diploma – much higher than the North Carolina average (22 percent)
and the US average (20 percent) for adults attaining a high school degree. At the same
time, only 14 percent of area adults have at least earned a four-year college degree as
compared with 23 percent of North Carolina adults and 24 percent of all Americans.
Furthermore, area leaders believe that many individuals – parents and students alike –
may either think that opportunities exist for those who leave high school early or that
they are not capable of succeeding in a “college classroom” environment.
   For workers to achieve good wages and for firms to compete successfully in the
area’s transforming knowledge-oriented economy, area adults must improve their
educational attainment levels. While the area has only a few options for four-year
degrees, the area does have an abundance of community college opportunities. We
must help area residents take full advantage of these opportunities and overcome their
apprehension of continued education.

The Response:
     Our mission is to create a clear message for area residents: “In this globally
competitive, knowledge-oriented economy, high-skill people will get and keep the best
jobs.” This must become an important part of the area’s cultural values. We must work
with young people and their families to instill the importance of finishing high school and
continuing to learn throughout one’s life. To earn a good living, each individual needs
skills derived from formal schooling and training as well as from informal experiences.
   To achieve this change in culture will require a similar strategy used to change other
social behaviors such as the reduction of drunken driving, use of drugs, or teen smoking.
These “social marketing” campaigns are aimed at changing attitudes and opinions in


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individuals through a combination of long-term information campaigns using one-on-one
and small group contact as well as the media.
    This “Education is How” campaign seeks to answer the question, “How do we create
a stable and environment in which to live, work, and play prosperously in the Future
Forward area?” To campaign should begin by enlisting civic and church groups to help
in getting the message across to parents and young adults. At the same time, the
Committee should hire a professional media consultant to develop an extensive radio,
television, and print campaign aimed at effectively shaping and communicating this
message to the area’s population. The campaign must also be ready to answer difficult
questions like, “What if I go to school, get a diploma and can’t get a job?”
    Industry must be engaged to develop and send a clear and consistent message
describing what kinds of skills are most likely to benefit a recent graduate’s job search
efforts. In addition, industry must be a target of the campaign as we create an
environment in which firms help in discouraging youth from dropping out of school to
take a full-time job. Two different types of consultants may be required for this effort:
Professional consultants who organize media coverage and grassroots consultants
familiar with implementing social campaigns at the local level.

Implementing Entities Involved
       Lead responsibility:
       ⇒ Business leadership in the area (in the form of a Regional Business Alliance)
       Supporting:
       ⇒ All Higher Education institutions, Pre-K through 12 schools, churches,
          community groups, residential associations, local television (especially North
          Carolina Public Television), and all Local Media.

Time Frame
   Four project phases are expected:
       ⇒ Phase 1: Initial planning of the campaign and development of grassroots
         support
       ⇒ Phase 2: Initial fundraising for campaign
       ⇒ Phase 3: Implementation of combined grassroots and media campaigns

Location
   Area-wide – possibly in collaboration with surrounding counties and groups




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Strategic Action Item: People-Jobs Matching System
   Develop an improved people-job matching information system that serves a
   multi-county area

Action Item Goals:
       Increase Employment among family wage jobs.
       Increase the number of regional collaborative projects.

   Intermediate Evaluation Measures:
       ⇒ Track number of jobs matched by the system.
       ⇒ Track employment rate of those participating in the system compared with the
         employment rate of other job seekers.

The Challenge:
    As of January 2003, 30,814 people were seeking employment in the 12-county area,
representing 7.8 percent of the local labor force. The manufacturing sector has lost
more than 25,000 jobs in the past six years, and this loss is expected to continue for
some time to come due to global competitive pressures and local manufacturers opting
to source more of their production offshore.
    Even though manufacturing employment has declined since its peak in 1994, the
boom years of the late 1990s suggest that jobs in certain non-manufacturing sectors are
available. To some degree, these jobs go wanting because local workers do not have
the right set of skills; however, it is expected that jobs are also left vacant because
workers simply do not know where to go to find out about them.
      Job information systems are fragmented. There are a number of listing services,
such as Advantage West’s www.workready.net. Informally, it is reported that the NC
Employment Security Commission (ESC) may have only about 20 to 30 percent of all
available jobs listed. Furthermore, the media markets in the area are fragmented, with
several television stations and newspapers serving an area that would represent
plausible commuting distances for jobs. Thus, there does not appear to be any single,
large centralized source of information about job opportunities. Neither the newspapers
nor any of the workforce entities surveyed provide comprehensive information,
electronically or in hard copy, about what job opportunities and openings are available
throughout the area. Workers seeking jobs must go to a variety of sources, and they are
still not likely to find a complete posting of the area’s jobs.

The Response:
    With a more comprehensive and easier-to-understand system, it is likely that job
seekers would be better matched with employers. Companies would have to spend less
time and money looking for qualified workers, improving their productivity.
   To accomplish this, we should use Internet technologies to create a regional job
database and job matching system that is maintained on an widely available Internet site
developed in collaboration with of the four Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs), the
Employment Security Commission (ESC), the Community Colleges, and the


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Universities, and other entities with job listings. The Future Forward Leadership
Committee has encourage the formation of an interim informal committee involving the
four workforce development boards (or WIBs) to do preliminary work on identifying a
logical database platform.
    Resources already identified include: data and software development by the state’s
ESC Job Bank, Advantage West’s www.workready.net website, and the community
college career centers. In addition, the implementing organizations will need to develop
a plan for operating, maintaining, and marketing the system over time. The marketing
campaign will be crucial to encourage job-seekers and employers to use the system, as
well as to help staff of the participating organizations become familiar with the system,
so that they may add job listings or search the job bank on behalf of their clients.

Implementing Entities Involved
       Lead responsibility:
       ⇒ An informal “super-Workforce Investment Board” composed of members of
          the area’s four Workforce Development Boards.
       Supporting:
       ⇒ North Carolina Employment Security Commission, Advantage West,
          Charlotte Partnership, and all Higher Education resources.

Time Frame
       ⇒ Immediate investigation should proceed to select the database platform and
         coordinate integration of appropriate databases.
       ⇒ The target date for full-scale implementation of the database platform should
         be September 2003.
       ⇒ The marketing campaign would start as soon as the database is functional for
         job seekers and employers.

Location
   Database would be accessible online, at the four One-Stop Career Centers and at
every partner institution.




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Strategic Action Item: Learning and Innovation Network
   Establish a Learning and Innovation Network (LIN) that provides programs and
   facilities required to foster technology-based economic development

Action Item Goals:
       Increase educational attainment beyond high school.
       Increase productivity and competitiveness of firms.
       Increase broadband usage in the business community.
       Increase technology utilization among “at-risk” industries to slow their
       outflow or demise.
       Increase the number of surviving and growing new businesses.
       Increase population of 25-40 year-olds with 2 years plus of education
       beyond high school.
       Increase population of 50+ year-olds with post-secondary education.
       Increase the number of regional collaborative projects.

   Intermediate Evaluation Measures:
       ⇒ The number of new training programs offered that is not currently offered by
         any institutions in the 12-county area.
       ⇒ The number of people trained by LIN programs.
       ⇒ The number of companies using the LIN to provide customized training or for
         small business counseling.
       ⇒ The amount of industry-driven research and development in the area.

The Challenge:
    Studies have shown that workforce development entities that are willing to network
across territorial and organizational boundaries are those that have had the greatest
success in gainfully employing their clients. The two senior institutions located in the
Future Forward area—Lenoir-Rhyne College and Appalachian State University—provide
primarily bachelor degrees, graduate studies and doctoral degrees in liberal arts,
education, business, and some other disciplines. Neither of these institutions has
particular focus on or extensive programs in technology-related fields. Likewise, the
local community colleges only have a limited ability to provide worker training in areas of
advanced technology.
    The Hickory Metro Higher Education Center (HMHEC) is designed to address this
issue to some degree. The Center is currently planned as a partnership of Appalachian
State University, Lenoir-Rhyne College, the Catawba County Economic Development
Corporation, the City of Hickory, Catawba Valley Community College (CVCC), and
others in the four-county Unifour area. The purpose of HMHEC is to provide a location
and programming to increase the supply of higher education and professional
development in the Unifour area. Specifically, the HMHEC is oriented toward providing
baccalaureate and graduate degree opportunities and professional skill development for

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citizens in the metro area. The HMHEC also could help overcome boundaries to
geographic access to training. The Center also might offer a broader range of technical
degrees, i.e., engineering, than are currently offered at the two senior institutions within
the study region. The current plan includes renovation of an existing facility at CVCC to
house Center programs with grant funds. A needs analysis study was completed
recently. A new Director of the Center has just been hired. The Center is moving
forward with a focus on providing training opportunities – either directly tied to the
existing institutions or through a collaborative effort to attract training and education
programs from other institutions to the Hickory facility.

The Response:
    The current Higher Education Center plan represents a kernel from which a more
comprehensive effort should be developed. The proposed Learning and Innovation
Network would build on the plans of the Higher Education Center, offering programming
in two basic tracks:
   (1) Bringing people back to school for continuous life-long learning, especially in
          technical fields, and
   (2) Helping businesses identify and adopt new technologies to improve their product
          lines and production processes.
    The first “back to school” track would be built on an expanded education and training
program of higher education curricula. As envisioned, the Learning and Innovation
Network (LIN) would develop new areas of training expertise in the study area, offering
science and engineering programs to support students and adult workers alike. This
would serve as the next-generation higher education facility – offering two- and four-year
degree programs as well as certification and continuing education courses. The LIN
would coordinate distance and continuing education for the colleges in the area to
ensure that they meet industry needs and they help us achieve our goal of improving the
educational attainment levels of Future Forward citizens. Whenever programs do not
already exist, the LIN would develop and run pilot programs that are ultimately turned
over to intermediaries (whether community colleges or innovation centers). As the
programs evolve, they would eventually offer an opportunity for locally driven research
and development that currently exists only in graduate programs of universities outside
the area. This has been the primary focus of the HMHEC as currently developed.
However, by being too closely tied to a single county or college, the center could miss
important opportunities to link with other community colleges in the Future Forward area
and nearby universities.
     The second “business development” track would focus on building a larger and
broader array of industry-sponsored innovation centers throughout the area. For
example, the Hosiery Center at Catawba Valley Community College, the Plastics Center
at Isothermal Community College, and the Applied Textile Technologies Center (in
Belmont) would be expanded and supplemented by similar industry-led centers in fields
such as furniture, automotive, medical technologies, printing & publishing, retirement
living (a so-called Centenarian Institute), or other areas of expertise. These centers
would be located at facilities throughout the area, but have a single point of leadership at
the Learning and Innovation Network. Additional programs might include network-
building activities in targeted manufacturing and technology clusters, integration of the
area’s small business and entrepreneurial assistance programs, supporting an angel

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network of investors in the area (built on Advantage West’s BRAIN initiative), an E-
business initiatives to encourage greater internet usage among local firms, hosting a
biotech coordinator as part of the state’s life sciences cluster development efforts, and/or
expanding research and development capabilities in the area. The LIN would represent
an Industry-Education coalition organization aimed at bringing together learning,
technology innovation, entrepreneurship, and the application of technology.
     The Learning and Innovation Network’s first priority would be to act as a network hub
for industry-driven education and training programs and entrepreneurial assistance alike.
It would do this by providing access to programs through the center – offered at multiple
sites throughout the area – and coordinating information about other resources that exist
elsewhere for businesses and workers alike. As such, the Center should be a catalyst
for collaborative program offerings and for acquiring programs from other institutions as
needed.
   The LIN, as the network hub, should also work closely with its allies (including the
area’s economic development corporations) to position and market all the higher
education, training and business support in the area. Programs should be run that fit
business schedules and learner needs – not the academic calendar. Training should be
custom-designed to reflect business and employee needs.

Implementing Entities Involved
       Lead responsibility:
       ⇒ Governing body of businesses and academic leaders, with greater
          representation by the business community, building on the HMHEC
       ⇒ The current HMHEC board needs to migrate from its current structure to one
          dominated by business leaders to ensure private sector input.
       Supporting:
       ⇒ Regional Business Alliance
       ⇒ All the Higher Ed institutions, and people working in workforce programs. May
          want to consider attaining involvement from the UNC system office.

Time Frame
       ⇒ Reconstitute the board within the next two months.
       ⇒ Within six months, the staff and board should revise the business plan to
         reflect the broader mission for the Center

Location
    We understand there is a preliminary building at Catawba Community College that is
already funded. To reach its full potential, the Center should eventually be located an
anchoring facility at a technology park whose location is yet to be determined.




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Strategic Action Item: Targeted Market Research
   Conduct a market research study to follow up the Future Forward Economic
   Situation Analysis to identify firms in the targeted clusters for proactive
   economic development activities

Action Item Goals:
       Increase the number of surviving and growing new businesses.
       Increase recruitment among higher wage-paying firms.
       Increase tourism dollars spent in the area.
       Reduce retail leakage.
       Increase the number of regional collaborative projects.

   Intermediate Evaluation Measures:
       ⇒ Use of study results in business recruitment, retention, and start-up efforts.

The Challenge:
    In February 2003, researchers from UNC-Charlotte and the Center for Regional
Economic Competitiveness prepared an economic analysis and situation report. In this
analysis, clusters of industries are grouped based on supply chain relationships. By
examining the typical make-up of the group, researchers can spot missing network links
as potential emerging industries or the over-saturation of mature or declining industries.
      In the Future Forward region, this analysis found five existing clusters that are
relatively large but that have been declining in employment. These “At Risk Clusters”
include Fabricated Textiles, Apparel, Furniture and Wood Products, Packaged Food
Products, and Printing and Publishing. The analysis also identified five other clusters
that should be the focus of efforts aimed at shoring up and growing firms, perhaps by
filling in weaker segments of the cluster. These “Large & Growing Clusters” include
Construction Materials, Metal Working & Industrial Machinery, Motor Vehicle
Manufacturing Technology, Primary Nonferrous Metals, and Chemicals and Plastics. In
the analysis, several small clusters were growing relatively rapidly. These clusters may
offer the greatest opportunity for development, but efforts may need to focus initially on
developing a critical mass of firms within this segment of the economy. These
“Emerging Clusters” include Hospitals, Labs & Medical Services, Travel & Tourism, and
Pharmaceuticals and Medical Technology.

The Response:
     The next step for using this cluster study for economic development purposes is to
identify individual and groups of firms. Economic development practitioners need
information about existing area firms that are (or could be) part of the targeted clusters
for retention and recruitment activities. Market intelligence gathering is necessary to
identify these firms. For existing area firms, the effort may involve developing a
database of firms within the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) – and related North
American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) – codes identified as part of each of
the targeted clusters. Once the firms are identified, it is then important to determine –

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through local knowledge, interviews, or surveys – whether each individual firm is indeed
connected to that cluster. Some firms may be allocated to more than one cluster.
    Those firms would be interviewed to identify their purchasing patterns to determine
possible cluster linkages that could be the target of recruitment, expansion or
entrepreneurial activities. The first step would be to identify firms located outside the
region that currently meet those purchasing requirements to determine if they are in a
growth mode and might be interested in relocating or expanding to the study area. In
some cases, a start-up firm within the area or an existing firm seeking market expansion
opportunities might also be interested in supplanting an outside vendor.
     A role may exist for the Future Forward Economic Alliance to perform routine
monitoring of economic conditions that may affect target clusters’ performance.
Economic conditions may include forces related to globalization, such as US national
trade policy, foreign government business assistance programs, new technology
adoption, and changing workforce demands. To do this, the Future Forward Economic
Alliance may need to coordinate an initial study to analyze our region’s competitive
challenges, and then develop a function for staff to monitor target cluster performance
relating to identified challenges. This project is expected to address long-term needs;
the interim and immediate focus should be on targeted market research.
    By utilizing market research findings, a number of the proposed projects in this
strategy would be able to target clusters in which the region already has a natural
comparative advantage. Even after the initial research is completed, it is vital that area
EDCs embrace this market intelligence work as part of an on-going research function. In
the initial research, external experts would help in identifying resource needs (such as
web tools like Hoover online, Reference USA, or Dun & Bradstreet data files) and
developing appropriate local expertise to conduct “market intelligence” research on local
firms and industries. “Market intelligence” research involves being able to read and
analyze publicly available information about industries and firms to help in determining
the likely future behavior of that industry or firm. Increasingly, this expertise can help
regions to anticipate future economic change and supplement on-going targeting efforts.

Implementing Entities Involved
       Lead responsibility:
       ⇒ Economic development corporations, especially the proposed regional
          economic development authority.
       Supporting:
       ⇒ Appalachian State University’s Appalachian Regional Development Institute.
       ⇒ Economic development district(s) serving the area.

Time Frame
       ⇒ Identify economic development research expertise within 3 months.
       ⇒ Conduct an initial phase of the research within 3 to 6 months.
       ⇒ Continuous updates of research activities.

Location
   The entire study area

STRATEGIC THEME:                                                                     Page 23
Targeted Marketing & Development
                                                                Future Forward Recommended
                                                                          Strategic Action Items
                                                               Final Draft – September 12, 2003


Strategic Action Item: “Mega-Development” Project
   Promote a “mega-development” project as a regional tourism/retail destination

Action Item Goals:
       Increase the number of surviving and growing new businesses.
       Increase tourism dollars spent in the area.
       Reduce retail leakage.
       Increase the number of urban amenities.
       Improve available green space and air quality.
       Increase the number of regional collaborative projects.

   Intermediate Evaluation Measures:
       ⇒ Identification of project(s).
       ⇒ Recruitment of developer(s).

The Challenge:
    The area is known for its traditional manufacturing base – especially in furniture,
textiles and apparel. For decades, these industries provided jobs for semi-skilled
workers. As these industries decline, alternative job opportunities are limited for this part
of the workforce.
    One of the bright spots in the area has been the moderate growth of the area’s
tourism base, especially in the mountains. Unfortunately, development along the key
corridors from the Western Piedmont to the Mountains are not conducive to encouraging
tourists on their way to mountain destinations to stop and spend money.
   Retail is a critical component part of the tourism industry and the entire North
Carolina economy. Catawba and Watauga Counties serve as significant centers for
shoppers in the 12 county study area, but a net total of nearly $390 million (or about 5.5
percent) of potential sales are being leaked primarily to stores in Asheville, Charlotte,
and Winston-Salem.

The Response:
    To provide opportunities for semi-skilled workers and build on the growth of the
area’s tourism industry, the area needs a “mega-development project” that makes a
statement about the potential for tourism and retail. The project would also provide an
opportunity to improve the quality of the area’s commercial, office, and residential
communities to serve the area’s future economic growth.
     The “mega-development project” must be big enough to draw national attention, thus
it will require the combined involvement of many of the counties in the study area – even
those counties that do not have property being developed in the “anchor” components of
the mega-development project. Similar to the Research Triangle Park around the
Raleigh-Durham area or Rio Rancho near Albuquerque, New Mexico, this project would



STRATEGIC THEME:                                                                       Page 24
Targeted Marketing & Development
                                                             Future Forward Recommended
                                                                       Strategic Action Items
                                                            Final Draft – September 12, 2003

be of sufficient size and scope to help transform the economies of surrounding
jurisdictions as well.
    As envisioned, the “mega-development” project would include quality office, flexible
commercial space, technology-intensive light manufacturing, destination retail,
recreational activities, high-end residential development, and retirement living as
components of this mixed-use project. It is unlikely that a private developer currently
based in the area could undertake such a project alone. In fact, it may require several
developers, each with expertise in different types of development. If multiple developers
were involved, then a coordinating entity – possibly a regional economic development
corporation with land assembly and development authority – would be necessary. To
provide such authority will require action by the North Carolina General Assembly. In
addition, this authority should be able to develop properties that allow counties and
municipalities to share investment risks and tax revenues generated from the site.

Implementing Entities Involved
       Lead responsibility:
       ⇒ Regional economic development authority (in collaboration with county
          EDCs).
       ⇒ One or more private developers might be solicited.
       Supporting:
       ⇒ Councils of Governments COG Coalition.
       ⇒ Economic development district(s) to obtain resources for site preparation and
          pre-development work.
       ⇒ Individual counties and municipalities.

Time Frame
       ⇒ Within the first six months, ensure that regional development authority is in
         place with appropriate mechanisms for financing land assembly and pre-
         development.
       ⇒ During the first year, identify potential sites in collaboration with “COG
         Coalition” representatives and begin acquiring property.
       ⇒ Solicit planning and development assistance for phased development of site.
       ⇒ Begin phased development of the project within two years with completion
         expected in 15 to 20 years.

Location
    To be determined, but the core site should be along one of the targeted
transportation development corridors with both East-West (presumably near I-40) and
with North-South access to major markets.




STRATEGIC THEME:                                                                    Page 25
Targeted Marketing & Development
                                                                Future Forward Recommended
                                                                          Strategic Action Items
                                                               Final Draft – September 12, 2003


Strategic Action Item: Regional Technology Park
   Promote development of a “high-end” technology park associated with the
   Learning and Innovation Network

Action Item Goals:
       Increase employment among “family-wage” (i.e., better paying) jobs.
       Increase productivity and competitiveness of all firms.
       Increase the number of surviving and growing new businesses.
       Increase recruitment among higher wage-paying firms.
       Increase population of 25-40 year-olds with 2 years plus of education
       beyond high school.
       Increase population of 50+ year-olds with post-secondary education.
       Increase the number of regional collaborative projects.

   Intermediate Evaluation Measures:
       ⇒ Establishment of permanent site for Learning and Innovation Network –
         Identification of project(s).
       ⇒ Recruitment of developer.

The Challenge:
    The Future Forward region has suffered a “one-two punch” during the past few
years. The manufacturing sector has suffered from long-term decline, possibly because
the segments of manufacturing most concentrated in the area – those competing based
on lowest costs – are particularly vulnerable to the business cycle, technological change,
and global competition.
    Successful firms use an approach designed to compete globally in the “new”
knowledge-based economy based on using technological innovations in production
processes and on finding market niches in which the technological adept firms can
compete. The area has few assets designed to encourage or support the development
of these advanced manufacturing industries. Much of the “product” in terms of sites and
buildings available are obsolete facilities that have not been adapted for reuse.
Construction of more modern facilities has tended to be “lower cost” and lower quality.
     Growth firms in advanced manufacturing or service industries require a different kind
of space. These firms demand higher end office and multi-tenant flexible commercial
space – often pre-built. The availability of speculative office and flex space is very
limited because the local market and financing are both limited. Without the space, it is
difficult to attract potential tenants so they often move closer to the larger urban centers
(e.g., Charlotte or Winston-Salem) where such space is readily available.

The Response:
    To break out of this cycle requires risk-taking on the part of area leaders. It requires
developing appropriate space on a speculative basis. One way to reduce that risk is to
link the development to an already planned project or activity that would be particularly

STRATEGIC THEME:                                                                       Page 26
Targeted Marketing & Development
                                                              Future Forward Recommended
                                                                        Strategic Action Items
                                                             Final Draft – September 12, 2003

important to the region’s success in recruiting and growing innovative firms. Thus, the
Learning and Innovation Network should be an anchor for the park, providing focus for
the development. The Center’s physical location would provide demand for just the type
of space being proposed, and it would also provide important shared space for the park
to support training and conference activities. In addition, graduate education as well as
research and development would be provided at the Center, and these could be critical
sparks for attracting or creating new technology-related activities in the area.
    The park would serve as the locus for technology innovation and adoption in the
area, providing a critical asset that economic developers could market to firms and
knowledge workers alike. The park may or may not be developed in concert with the
proposed “mega-development” project discussed elsewhere, but it should have strong
ties with Appalachian State University – including achieving designation for part of the
site as a millennium campus for the university.

Implementing Entities Involved
       Lead responsibility:
       ⇒ Learning and Innovation Network and the Regional Economic Development
          Authority
       Supporting:
       ⇒ Appalachian State University’s millennium campus
       ⇒ Councils of Governments Coalition
       ⇒ Economic development district(s)
       ⇒ Economic development corporations to help with marketing
       ⇒ Individual counties and municipalities.

Time Frame
       ⇒ Once the Learning and Innovation Network & Regional EDA has been
         established, begin the process of identifying programs and activities to be
         implemented on site (within 6 – 9 months).
       ⇒ Conduct pre-feasibility study to determine appropriate programs and space
         needs as well as market potential (12 to 24 months).
       ⇒ Develop a phasing plan and begin phased development of project within two
         years with completion of initial phase expected in 5 to 10 years.

Location
    Central part of the Future Forward area: the site would serve as core campus
location for Learning and Innovation Network. One plan might include co-locating the
technology park with proposed “mega-development” project.




STRATEGIC THEME:                                                                     Page 27
Targeted Marketing & Development
                                                               Future Forward Recommended
                                                                         Strategic Action Items
                                                              Final Draft – September 12, 2003


Strategic Action Item: Regional Planning Task Force
   Establish a regional taskforce for encouraging planned development and
   strategic outdoor amenities, heritage and cultural assets and principles for
   municipal and county action along targeted development corridors
Action Item Goals:
       Increase recruitment among higher-wage paying firms.
       Increase tourism dollars spent in the area.
       Increase the population of 25-40 year-olds with 2 years plus education.
       Increase population of 50+ year-olds with post-secondary education.
       Improve available green space and air quality by increasing the amount of
       parkland, greenways, and public access to water, historic districts and
       clean air.
       Increase the number of urban amenities (e.g., computer cafes, civic theatre,
       public concerts, and indoor/outdoor recreation).
       Increase the number of regional collaborative projects.

   Intermediate Evaluation Measures:
       ⇒ Increase in tourism/travel spending/visitor.
       ⇒ Increased sale prices of retirement, second home properties.
       ⇒ Increase per capita income by targeting middle and high-end residential
         development for all age groups, with focus on early retirees and generation
         X’ers and Y’ers as they “settle down”.
       ⇒ Improvements on natural resource/conservation indicators.

The Challenge:
    As US incomes increase and Americans re-evaluate lifestyle and values, residential
demand will grow in regions with high natural amenities. The Future Forward area is
one of a handful of regions in the US near high quality nationally known urban amenities
(including those offered in Charlotte, Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Greenville-
Spartanburg and Asheville) while also possessing large tracts of pristine landscape
offering a variety of outdoor recreation (e.g., skiing, horseback riding, walking, camping,
canoeing, fishing, and hunting). The area can also claim a distinctive settlement and
cultural history that can be a source of interest and education to tourists and residents
alike.
    For the area to capitalize on historic and natural assets, these resources must be
managed for the long haul. Haphazard and unrestricted development that seeks to take
advantage of natural assets in the short run can deplete and despoil those very assets.
Development history across the US is replete with examples of unplanned development
that destroys the natural assets, causing congestion, excessive air and water pollution,
resulting in decline in “sense of place.”




STRATEGIC THEME:                                                                      Page 28
“Connected & Creative” Living
                                                                  Future Forward Recommended
                                                                            Strategic Action Items
                                                                 Final Draft – September 12, 2003


The Response:
    The Future Forward area must be proactive in creating a unique “sustainable growth”
partnership between the entities committed to the area’s development and those seeking
to preserve its natural beauty, arts/crafts, recreation and enjoyment. This partnership
must be committed to preserving the aesthetics and ecological quality of the Blue Ridge
area, ensuring long term water quality of lakes, streams and rivers, and achieving
balance between growth and green space. The partnership might be strongly linked with
the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area initiative.
    To accomplish this, the leaders of the community should establish a task force of the
COG Coalition to serve as an on-going partnership. The goal of the Task Force to help
the area’s public and private leaders shape growth/development to ensure a sustainable
natural and economic environment. This Task Force should be empowered to:
       ⇒ Identify “sustainable growth zones” – areas where growth should be
         encouraged in a thoughtful way,
       ⇒ Map the assets in two ways:
           •   To identify natural, social and economic overlays in these zones,
           •   To identify linkages, economic and ecologic, between the zones and the
               proposed corridor strategy,
       ⇒ Prepare agreed-upon guidelines for managing growth and conservation
         within these zones,
       ⇒ Offer briefings and training to local/regional decision-makers on the various
         regulatory and non-regulatory tools available to shape unique “sustainable
         growth,” and
       ⇒ Form coalitions of interests within the Task Force to:
           •   Prepare a master plan for the water and forest/woodland assets
           •   Prepare a plan for leveraging cultural and historical assets
           •   Prepare a strategy for promoting industries supporting the use of those assets.


   The task force should take on three immediate activities:
       ⇒ Undertake a master planning process for the Future Forward area’s
         amenities, building on the efforts of existing recreational task forces in the
         four COG regions. That master plan should identify the projects with the
         greatest regional impact and target those for development and/or attention.
       ⇒ Develop a priority list of the most critical investments and begin the process
         of either acquiring land or leveraging public/private resources in support of
         greenways, open space, or other recreational amenities.
       ⇒ Develop an impact study of the economic benefits and impacts associated
         with the availability of targeted recreational facilities or other amenities. The
         purpose of this study is to help the task force make a better case for these
         efforts in economic terms as well as contributions to the area’s quality of life.




STRATEGIC THEME:                                                                         Page 29
“Connected & Creative” Living
                                                           Future Forward Recommended
                                                                     Strategic Action Items
                                                          Final Draft – September 12, 2003


Implementing Entities Involved
       Lead responsibility:
       ⇒ COG Coalition staff for the task force
       Supporting:
       ⇒ County and Municipal Planning Departments
       ⇒ Real estate firms
       ⇒ Economic development entities
       ⇒ The North Carolina Chapter of the Nature Conservancy
       ⇒ Resource and Conservation Districts
       ⇒ Local Land Trusts
       ⇒ Crescent Resources, Inc., a subsidiary of Duke Power
       ⇒ NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
       ⇒ A resource conservation center at a NC University/College
       ⇒ County and Regional Tourism Entities
       ⇒ Arts and Crafts Organizations in the area
       ⇒ Blue Ridge National Heritage Area initiative partners
       ⇒ NC Division of Travel and Tourism

Time Frame
       ⇒ Phase 1, 2003 – 2004: Area-wide public seminars and dialogue-- visiting
         experts, especially from other regions including overseas.
       ⇒ Phase 2, 2003 – 2004: Documentation of case studies/best practices and
         site visits by the Task Force.
       ⇒ Phase 3, 2004 – 2005: Coordinated planning across all participating
         Partners, leading to preparation of a master regional plan for development
         and environmental protection.
       ⇒ Phase 4, 2004 – 2008: Applications for supplemental funding for targeted
         improvement projects—Federal & State grants, philanthropic foundations.

Location
   Area-wide




STRATEGIC THEME:                                                                  Page 30
“Connected & Creative” Living
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Future Forward Recommended
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Strategic Action Items
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Final Draft – September 12, 2003


            Conclusion
            Matrix of Recommendations & Goals
                Each of the action items is designed to achieve the goals identified by the Future
            Forward Leadership Committee. The following table aggregates all of the actions and
            goals in a single place to help the reader understand how the plan comes together to
            foster collaborative leadership, promote scale and connectivity, develop a 21st Century
            workforce, encourage innovation and entrepreneurship, support targeted marketing and
            development, and enhances the area’s “connected and creative” lifestyle.




                  Plan Goals by Strategic Themes and Actions
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Innovation
                             Collaborative
                                                                                          Scale &                                                                         21st Century                                                              &                                       Targeted Marketing &                                                          Connected &
                             Leadership &
                                                                                        Connectivity                                                                       Workforce                                                            Entrepre-                                       Development                                                              Creative Living
                             Governance
Strategic Themes                                                                                                                                                                                                                                neurship
Strategic Action Items




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              technology-based economic development




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        strategic outdoor amenities, heritage and
                                                                                                                that tie the area together and improve its




                                                                                                                                                                                                    matching information system that serves




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Promote a "mega-development" project
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       follow up the Future Forward Economic




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        encouraging planned development and
                                                                                                                Identify targeted infrastructure projects




                                                                                                                                                             value of education among parents and




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       as a regional tourism/retail destination
                                                                     Identify transportation corridors as the




                                                                                                                                                             Conduct a campaign to increase local




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Network (LIN) that provides programs




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Promote development of a "high-end"
                           organizations or strategic alliances of
                           Create a network of "super-regional"




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Situation Analysis to identify specific
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Establish a Learning and Innovation




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Conduct a market research study to




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  technology park associated with the
                           regional strategies built on existing




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        municipal and county action along
                           organizations based to implement




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Learning and Innovation Network

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Establish a regional taskforce for
                                                                                                                                                                                                    Develop an improved people-job




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        cultural assets and principles for

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        targeted development corridors
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              and facilities required to foster
                                                                     main focus for future planned




                                                                                                                economic performance




                                                                                                                                                                                                    a multi-county area
                           existing institutions




                                                                                                                                                             young people
                                                                     development




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       firms




Goals
Skilled People
Increase Employment
among family wage                                                                                                                                                                                                       x                                                                        x                      x                           x
jobs
Increase high school (or
equivalency)                                                                                                                                                                   x
completion

Increase educational
attainment beyond high                                                                                                                                                         x                                                                                x
school for adults 25 and
above
Innovative Firms

Increase productivity
and competitiveness of                                                                                                                      x                                                                                                                   x                                                                                   x
all firms

Increase broadband
usage in business                                                                                                                           x                                                                                                                   x
community

Increase technology
utilization among "at-                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          x
risk" industries to slow
their outflow or demise


            STRATEGIC THEME:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Page 31
            Conclusion
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Goals




                                                                        projects
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              paying firms




                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Cool Places




                   Create jobs and
                                                                                                                                             of parkland, etc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     new businesses




                                                                                                                    urban amenities
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   spent in the area




                   regional initiatives
                                                                                                                                                                                                   beyond high school




                                            Increase the pool of
                                                                                                 Smart Governance
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Increase recruitment
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              among higher wage-




                                                                                                                                                                        secondary education
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Economic Diversity




                                                                        regional collaborative
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     surviving and growing




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Reduce retail leakage




                                                                                                                                                                                                   25-40 year-olds with 2




                                                                                                                                             increasing the amount
                                                                                                                                                                        Increase population of
                                                                                                                                                                                                   Increase population of




                   regional tax base from
                                                                        Increase the number of
                                                                                                                    Increase the number of
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Increase the number of




                                                                                                                                                                                                   years plus of education




                                                                                                                                             space and air quality by
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Increase tourism dollars




                                                                                                                                                                        50+ year-olds with post-


                                                                                                                                             Improve available green




                                            funds for regional action
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Strategic Action Items
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Strategic Themes




Conclusion
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Create a network of "super-regional"
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   organizations based to implement
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   regional strategies built on existing




                           x
                                                   x
                                                                                x
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   organizations or strategic alliances of
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   existing institutions
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Governance




STRATEGIC THEME:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Collaborative
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Leadership &




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Identify transportation corridors as the




                                                                                x
                                                                                                                          x
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            x
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          x
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      x
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   main focus for future planned




                                                   x
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   development
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Identify targeted infrastructure projects
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   that tie the area together and improve its
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Scale &




                                                   x
                                                                                x
                                                                                                                          x
                                                                                                                                                       x
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      x
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   economic performance
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Connectivity




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Conduct a campaign to increase local




                                                   x
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   value of education among parents and




                                                                                x
                                                                                                                                                                                 x
                                                                                                                                                                                                             x
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   young people

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Develop an improved people-job
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   matching information system that serves
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Workforce




                                                   x
                                                                                x
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          21st Century




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   a multi-county area

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Establish a Learning and Innovation
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Network (LIN) that provides programs




                                                   x
                                                                                x
                                                                                                                                                                                 x
                                                                                                                                                                                                             x
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             x
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 &




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   and facilities required to foster
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   technology-based economic development
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             neurship
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Entrepre-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Innovation




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Conduct a market research study to
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   follow up the Future Forward Economic




                                                                                x
                                                                                                                                                                                 x
                                                                                                                                                                                                             x
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            x
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          x
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      x
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             x




                                                   x
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Situation Analysis to identify specific
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   firms
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Promote a "mega-development" project




                                                   x

                           x
                                                                                x
                                                                                                                          x
                                                                                                                                                       x
                                                                                                                                                                                 x
                                                                                                                                                                                                             x
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            x
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          x
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             x




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   as a regional tourism/retail destination

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Promote development of a "high-end"
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Development




                                                   x
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   technology park associated with the




                           x
                                                                                x
                                                                                                                                                                                 x
                                                                                                                                                                                                             x
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      x
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             x
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Targeted Marketing &




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Learning and Innovation Network

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Establish a regional taskforce for
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   encouraging planned development and
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   strategic outdoor amenities, heritage and




                                                   x
                                                                                x
                                                                                                                          x
                                                                                                                                                       x
                                                                                                                                                                                 x
                                                                                                                                                                                                             x
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            x
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          x
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      x
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Future Forward Recommended
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Strategic Action Items
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Final Draft – September 12, 2003




        Page 32
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   cultural assets and principles for
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   municipal and county action along
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Connected &




                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   targeted development corridors
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Creative Living
                                                           Future Forward Recommended
                                                                     Strategic Action Items
                                                          Final Draft – September 12, 2003


                            Budget Appendix

Strategic Action Item: Collaborative Institutions
  Create a network of “super-regional” organizations based to implement
  regional strategies built on existing organizations or strategic alliances of
  existing institutions

Required Investment and Sources of Investment
     Initial Start-up
     ⇒ $500,000 - $750,000 Strategic Fund for the Future Forward Economic
         Alliance for initial startup, including $150,000-$200,000 for Alliance
         operations
     ⇒ Initial funding should come from federal/state sources, allocations of up to
         $20,000 from each county participating, and private sector contributions used
         to fill in gaps and targeted philanthropic foundations.
     Longer term needs
     ⇒ Envisions a multi-million dollar revolving fund and resources for each
        strategic action would be sought as proposed in the individual action items.


Strategic Action Item: Development Corridor Plans
  Identify transportation corridors as the main focus for future planned
  development

Required Investment and Sources of Investment
     Initial Start-up
     ⇒ Estimated $150,000 for planning and initial fundraising activities from
         Strategic Fund and state/federal transportation planning dollars
     Longer term needs
     ⇒ Apply for planning and marketing grants, matched dollar for dollar by local
        banks, utilities, commercial realtors, etc. – target of $120,000 for 2003 –
        2004.
     ⇒ Use a method of tax increment financing to fund ongoing marketing and
        corridor strategy upgrades.




STRATEGIC THEME:                                                                  Page 33
Conclusion
                                                            Future Forward Recommended
                                                                      Strategic Action Items
                                                           Final Draft – September 12, 2003




Strategic Action Item: Targeted Regional Infrastructure Projects
  Identify targeted infrastructure projects that tie the area together and improve
  its economic performance

Required Investment and Sources of Investment
     Initial Start-up 2003 – 2004
     ⇒ Make immediate application for 2-3 projects under EDA public works
         category.
     ⇒ $1-2 million for feasibility and pre-development studies.
     ⇒ Use the Infrastructure Planning Committee of the Future Forward Economic
         Alliance to review State’s Transportation Improvement Plan well in advance
         of the next update.
     Longer term needs
     ⇒ Explore the potential for creating a regional revolving loan fund for
        infrastructure, possibly seeded with the help of the Fund for the Future
        Forward Study region, proposed elsewhere in this Plan.


Strategic Action Item: “Education is How”
  Conduct a campaign to increase the “value” placed on education by local
  parents and young people

Required Investment and Sources of Investment
     Initial Start-up
     ⇒ Estimated $100,000-$150,000 for planning and initial fundraising activities.
     ⇒ Funding should be distributed with $7,500 allocated from each county and
         private sector contributions used to fill in gaps.
     Longer term needs
     ⇒ Media and grassroots campaign funding needs must be developed by a
        professional fundraising organization. Estimated costs are expected to run
        $1 million to $3 million in cash and in-kind contributions (including the value
        of media support).




STRATEGIC THEME:                                                                   Page 34
Conclusion
                                                         Future Forward Recommended
                                                                   Strategic Action Items
                                                        Final Draft – September 12, 2003


Strategic Action Item: People-Jobs Matching System
  Develop an improved people-job matching information system that serves a
  multi-county area

Required Investment and Sources of Investment
     Initial Start-up
     ⇒ Minimize start-up costs by having people donate the effort and including
         programming time. Approximately $200,000 might be leveraged from ESC.
     ⇒ Developing a marketing campaign will require initial funds of $100,000 to
         $200,000, donated as cash or in-kind services from the four participating
         WIBs and the two regional economic development partnerships.
     Longer term needs
     ⇒ The WIBs should be responsible for database maintenance, results
        monitoring and product improvement.



Strategic Action Item: Learning and Innovation Network
  Establish a Learning and Innovation Network (LIN) that provides programs and
  facilities required to foster technology-based economic development

Required Investment and Sources of Investment
     Initial Start-up
     ⇒ $500,000 for staff to cover both planning and programmatic expenses.
     Longer term needs
     ⇒ New facility covered under later EDC strategy/tech park discussion.


Strategic Action Item: Targeted Market Research
  Conduct a market research study to follow up the Future Forward Economic
  Situation Analysis to identify firms in the targeted clusters for proactive
  economic development activities

Required Investment and Sources of Investment
     Initial Start-up
     ⇒ $50,000 - $75,000 annually for initial database development and market
         intelligence reports on area clusters.
     Longer Term
     ⇒ $75,000 - $100,000 annually for on-going staff and data products.




STRATEGIC THEME:                                                                Page 35
Conclusion
                                                          Future Forward Recommended
                                                                    Strategic Action Items
                                                         Final Draft – September 12, 2003


Strategic Action Item: “Mega-Development” Project
     ⇒ Promote a “mega-development” project as a regional tourism/retail
       destination

Required Investment and Sources of Investment
     Initial Start-up
     ⇒ $200,000 - $300,000 for organizing efforts.
     ⇒ $500,000 - $1,000,000 for initial land assembly and pre-development work.
     Longer Term
     ⇒ Based on pre-development planning estimates.


Strategic Action Item: Regional Technology Park
  Promote development of a “high-end” technology park associated with the
  Learning and Innovation Network

Required Investment and Sources of Investment
     Initial Start-up
     ⇒ $200,000 - $300,000 for organizing and pre-development work.
     Longer Term
     ⇒ Based on pre-development planning estimate.


Strategic Action Item: Regional Planning Task Force
  Establish a regional taskforce for encouraging planned development and
  strategic outdoor amenities, heritage and cultural assets and principles for
  municipal and county action along targeted development corridors

Required Investment and Sources of Investment
     Initial Start-up 2003 – 2004
     ⇒ $200,000 for the initial phase of a master plan.
     ⇒ $50,000 for an economic impact analysis of amenity strategies on the region.
     ⇒ $2 million for initial funding of greenway easements.
     ⇒ Locally raised from units of government, participating organizations, local
         foundations.
     Longer term needs
     ⇒ Targeted project funding and community programs.
     ⇒ Major grant from a national philanthropic foundation interested in sustainable
        development/quality growth matched by local revenues.



STRATEGIC THEME:                                                                 Page 36
Conclusion