“What’s the Plan?” It’s a phrase I’ve heard a lot lately. Whether in the Presidential debates, local ballot initiatives or simply around the community there is ongoing unsettlement with things that are happening and a failure to understand why they are happening.

There is a good and a bad message here. The “good” is that people are paying attention and that they are concerned about their community and its plan. The “bad” highlights the lack of communication by role players in the community toward their work and its specific end objective. I’ve had to think about this a lot because, in fact, I recently found myself guilty of that same failure.

Most of us are very good at what we do and how we do it. We go about our daily lives carrying out our “plan” to the best of our abilities. To us, the “Why” is obvious. Unfortunately, to many it is not so obvious and is the birthplace of the coffee shop talk or cocktail party conversation. I learned a long time ago that the best way to sort out misinformation is to follow it to its source. In doing so, what I’ve often found is that the misinformation actually stems from a Lack of Information! My culpability stems from an assumption that people know what Forward Cody was created to do and why. I think we all know the danger of using the word assume! So maybe it’s a good time and maybe this is a good forum to revisit Forward Cody’s “Why” with the community.

Forward Cody was created in 2007 by a group of local business leader’s intent on improving the vibrancy of our local economy. They were frustrated by the service sector economy, low wage rates and the cyclical nature of a tourism-based community. They saw other peer communities growing business, recruiting companies, and having success in economic development. And their question was, “Why not Cody?” This group over the course of the year put together a campaign and launched Forward Cody as an outgrowth of the local Chamber of Commerce economic development committee.

That initial group provided focus areas for our work based around some very solid principles – we call them Building Blocks. Building Blocks are rudimentary in our business as everything we do relies on the firm foundation set by the community. The graphic depicts the Building Blocks in action and explains each tier. It’s upon those Building Blocks which we base our Plan.

It is important to recognize that economic development is a lot more than grabbing a business and convincing them to move here. Yet that’s what many people believe. Often, I wish that was all it amounted to. But for a moment, put yourself in the shoes of an existing company wishing to grow here or to move here. What information would you need to know? What things would be important to you?   I can assure you – the list gets pretty long – pretty fast.

We regularly field questions about the community’s support for growth, housing, workforce, utility rates, taxation, broadband, transportation, air service, schools, quality of life, climate, training programs, and incentives. Each of these topics become a part of a community story, a story which gives us the ability to grow a local company or recruit a new one. Having a weak or missing chapter really spoils the entire tale and probably the opportunity as well.

So, while our focus is on business growth and jobs – to create the best story we must play a role in all of the other Building Blocks.

Over the next several months, our articles will speak to the Building Blocks – one by one – discussing their importance and the actions we are taking to grow Cody – the way the community envisions. You’ll see through those explanations, what we are doing, the effect that it is having and why it matters- not only to businesses, but to you as a member of the community. Our plan is really your plan and we should gather your feedback.

There is only one direction in our business – Forward- because staying the same or going backward simply are not options.