A strategic plan for the Albert Lea area
Published 9:00 am Sunday, March 15, 2020
ALEDA executive director answers questions about ideas to move economic development forward
Q: What led to the decision to conduct a strategic plan? What is the hope for the plan?
A: The ALEDA board decided that the best way to move our organization and economic development in Albert Lea and Freeborn County forward was to have a comprehensive road map detailing our main priorities for the next five years.
The hope for the plan is to create a comprehensive road map with our partner agencies and the community that will outline and guide our priorities going forward.
Q: What has been the process? What groups of people/organizations were met with?
A: The process through Ady Advantage, the firm hired to organize and develop the plan, has been a 12-phase program designed to gather critical data, engage stakeholders, and to develop priorities amongst the core team (ALEDA, CVB, city, county, chamber) for the next five years.
Besides the core team, between the two community and stakeholder events there were over 100 people from over 65 different organizations, businesses and groups that were engaged. A list of participants involved in the first stakeholder event will be printed within the final draft of the plan.
Q: What have been the major take-aways (areas the community should focus on) from the process?
A: The overarching goals identified were:
Leverage the multiple organizations that have a stake in Albert Lea and Freeborn County’s economic development success to create a strong economic development ecosystem.
Help connect K-12/higher education and employers to strengthen the talent pipeline.
Enhance and promote quality of life amenities to help attract talent, retain residents and increase levels of community engagement.
Prioritize activities to ensure Albert Lea and Freeborn County are prepared for business growth opportunities.
Each of these goals have several strategies laid out in the implementation map detailing how we aim to achieve each goal.
Q: What were identified as Albert Lea/Freeborn County’s strengths? What were areas that could be improved on?
A: Albert Lea/Freeborn County have many strengths laid out in the plan, here are a few that were highlighted:
Diversity of businesses
Cost of living
Riverland and our strong K-12 school system
Our lakes and other recreation
Areas that can be improved are ‘all the above’. From our strengths to our weaknesses this plan looks to enhance and redevelop our strategies moving forward with the understanding that economic development today takes a more comprehensive approach.
Q: What will the Albert Lea Economic Development Agency/city/county be doing differently than in previous years when it comes to business recruitment/retention as a result of this process?
A: Our agencies will be looking into all of our processes and programs to see where there is room for improvement and utilizing new programs and strategies, as well as looking into the underlying issues that have affected our area negatively in terms of recruitment and retention — the overall goal being to make Albert Lea and Freeborn County as business-friendly as possible.
Q: How will this plan be used moving forward?
A: This plan will be used as a five-year road map for the agencies involved on economic development. It will serve as a guide, focusing our agencies on the goals we have prioritized. Specifically, laying out how each one of those goals can be achieved with different strategies, what agency is leading, what other agencies are involved and the timeframe in which it should be accomplished.
Q: What other parts of this process would be beneficial for the community to know?
A: The important piece for the community to know is that developing this plan would not have been possible without their input and years of experience in working and living in Albert Lea/Freeborn County. The more involvement that Albert Lea and Freeborn County have between its various stakeholders now and going forward will ultimately lead to success.