How can economic development leaders, new to their jobs, improve their strategic planning process?

Every year, the WA State Department of Commerce organizes a 3-day training event for economic development professionals to learn the fundamentals of their profession. The trainees are either young professionals or senior leaders who are new to their posts. This 2-hour class presented gave participants the essential concepts and practices in strategic planning to support their success as leaders and improve outcomes for their organization and the communities they serve.


StartUp Washington is a program spearheaded by Washington State’s Department of Commerce. Aimed at startups and entrepreneurs, the program’s strategy is to strengthen communities by cultivating and retaining economic and intellectual capability. The program has the support of local economic development leaders and is part of Governor Inslee’s long-term approach to create quality jobs across the state. Visit StartUp Washington.


  • Prepared training materials and delivered the 2-hour intensive training to a class of 54 economic developers from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana.


Attendees gained confidence and ability in three crucial areas:

  • A structured framework describing the elements of a strategic plan and how they relate to each other.
  • A step-wise process for strategic planning
  • Clarification of the difference between strategic planning and action planning
  • Knowing the most common pitfalls to avoid and best practices for improving the strategic planning process, plan, and outcomes