Archived Story

SMEGA creates 5-year plan for area economic, community vitality

Published 1:30pm Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Southwestern Michigan Economic Growth Alliance’s new five-year plan, released last week, features five objectives aimed at positioning SMEGA’s communities as the area’s premier location for community and economic development vitality.

Not only does the plan outline these objectives, it also includes measurable goals SMEGA can point to and define as community and economic development successes.

“I am most excited about these measurable targets,” said Joe Sobieralski, SMEGA executive director. “They’re something that the organization can point to on a yearly basis and say, ‘this is what we are working toward and this is how your investment is enhancing our communities.’”

SMEGA’s board of directors approved the five-year strategic plan Sept. 12. Sobieralski said he would be presenting the plan to local municipalities, businesses and civil organizations over the next several months.

To develop the plan, Sobieralski looked at what similar organizations were doing across the country.

“I didn’t reinvent the wheel… I looked and saw what some other successful organizations are doing and took bits and pieces of theirs and made it our own,” he said. “Some of it is pretty aggressive but I think we can get pretty close to them. I like to shoot for the stars anyway.”

SMEGA’s previous five-year plan was set to expire this year.

“Before we just had a list of 15 or 20 objectives and there was really no strategy. In this we want to show investors these are the 10 things that we are going to work on — this is your return on the investment,” Sobieralski said.

“Ideally, after 10 years we will have come close to or met all of those. If we do, then we’ve been successful.”

Five objectives laid out in the plan are:

1. Attract new businesses

2. Support the retention and expansion of existing businesses

3. Promote a skilled workforce

4. Partner locally (enhance local community development efforts)

5. Partner regionally

Measurable targets include (over the next five years):

1. Secure $750,000 in capital investment for operations, an increase of 36.4 percent from traditional levels over the current investment level of $550,000

2. Participate in 20 economic development projects

3. Job creation and retention (A. Creation of 300 jobs over five years in the SMEGA communities. B. Retention of 200 jobs over five years – jobs retained by current SMEGA community employers)

4. Participate in the development of 50 acres

5. Participate in adding 250,000 sq. ft. of new industrial floor space

6. Participate in adding 30,000 sq. ft. of new commercial floor space

7. Spur $80,000,000 worth of investment

8. 100 company visits (100 different companies over five years)

9. Grow number of investors by 16 percent

10. Grow SMEGA board membership by 29 percent

SMEGA serves 11 communities in southern Berrien and Cass Counties. Its current investors and board of directors represent a variety of businesses, educational institutions, financial institutions, healthcare providers, manufacturers, public and private sector organizations, and utility providers — all dedicated to supporting economic development in our area.

Click the link below to view the whole plan.

SMEGA 5 year plan

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