If there is enough support within the county and county government, Plymouth County Supervisors would like to do more long-range strategic planning in the future.
"This isn't something that we can do if only one person wants it," Chairman C. Gordon Greene said. "I think it's something that we really should be looking at, though."
Greene presented two examples of strategic plans that were available online. The first was from Kalamazoo County, Mich.; the second was from Lane County, Ore.
He said he was most interested in the level of interdepartmental communication that was spelled out in the documents. Human resources management and economic development were other areas he said were important to address.
"I think it's a great idea. We need to understand the process, too," Supervisor John Schneider said. "We'll need input from the different department heads, as well as from their deputies. We're going to need to have focus group meetings, as well."
In the end, he added, the most important factor is making sure the county uses the strategic plan in the future. There needs to be a mechanism in place to ensure that, but only if it's what the county wants to do.
"The big question we need to answer, though, is 'Does the county want to do this?'" he said. "If we go through this whole process and the county doesn't want to do it, we've wasted a lot of money."
Supervisor Paul Sitzmann wondered aloud if a strategic plan wouldn't be a mere duplication of actions taken when the comprehensive plan is updated on a regular basis.
Schneider said he felt the comprehensive plan was more of a demographics-driven report, while the strategic plan was a true planning tool. Economic development director Gary Tucker echoed those sentiments.
"A strategic plan, once you have one in place, should be reviewed on an annual basis," he said. "It provides a long-range vision of what the county should look like, how you're going to get there and who be responsible for ensuring each part of the plan is acheived."
Supervisor Jim Henrich said he supported the effort to create a strategic plan for Plymouth County. He added that the strategic plan shouldn't raise any unneccessary hopes.
"We have to realize that this is what we hope the county will look like down the road, not knowing what will actually happen in the meantime," he said. "There are things that can come along and affect what really happens."
Greene instructed the rest of the board to review the examples from Michigan and Oregon and to come up with their own ideas. Those ideas will be put together as a starting point at the supervisors' Nov. 1 meeting.