IT’S JANUARY, THE time of reflections on the past and promises for the future.
The Babylonians were the first people to make New Year’s promises 4,000 years ago. They would vow to return borrowed objects and pay their debts. If the Babylonians kept to their word, their (pagan) gods would bestow favor on them for the coming year. If not, they would fall out of the gods’ favor — a place no one wanted to be.
As the years went by, those promises turned into New Year’s resolutions, otherwise known as a “to do list for the first week of January.” One of my personal resolutions for this year is to exercise more on my elliptical machine while I gaze outside my window at the beauty of our Clallam County’s farmland and the Dungeness River.
Economic developers make New Year’s resolutions often, but we call them strategic plans. Unfortunately those strategic plans often go by the way of our personal resolutions.
Strategic plans are very similar to personal resolutions in that they are well meaning, have good intentions, improve people’s lives and unfortunately gather dust over the year.
The only difference is that strategic plans are more public and sit on shelves as opposed to personal resolutions that sit in front of your bedroom window inducing guilt.
That is why this year, I would like to proclaim a set of community resolutions for the Clallam County Economic Development Corp., that are both achievable and tangible and which will be easy to measure their progress.
The New Year’s resolutions include:
• Promoting Clallam County by updating the EDC webpage with local news, community highlights, recognition and business success stories.
• Enhancing the EDC Business Expansion and Retention program by providing technical assistance to a minimum of 100 businesses that will include new ideas for business and introduce them to state and regional programs.
• Facilitating the North Olympic Legislative Alliance (NOLA) to support priority development for the 2020 and 2021 legislative sessions.
• Introducing Emerald Coast Opportunity Zone project and business owners to potential investors.
• Working with the North Olympic Library System to create a “third space” which can be used as an information and meeting facility for small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs.
• Educating elected officials and the board about why economic development matters and the best way to achieve EDC designated metrics and goals.
• Identifying makers, doers and dreamers in the community and introduce them to the tools and information that will help them start their own business.
• Producing a “Go to Source for Data” that also will include regional amenities, an asset map, resources, events and hidden gems that will be promoted internally and externally for start-ups, existing businesses and companies seeking to relocate to Clallam County.
• Creating a CEO roundtable that will make suggestions and introductions to distributors and clients outside the region who may be interested in relocating closer to their customers.
• Participating in career days with high schools to encourage them to recognize the opportunities of employment at home or starting their own business and continuing to live in Clallam County.
• Working with partners to become an age-friendly region for seniors by improving our outdoor spaces and buildings, developing intergenerational communications, encouraging civic participation and volunteerism, promoting social involvement, and publishing information relating to community and health services.
The success of most Americans in achieving their New Year’s resolutions is not very good.
However, it is my intention to beat the odds and make these resolutions hopeful in January, challenging in February and historic for 2021.
Only then will I be able to wipe the dust off my elliptical machine.
Colleen McAleer, who is also a Port of Port Angeles commissioner, writes this column as the executive director of the Clallam County Economic Development Corp. (EDC). The column will be a regular feature to update readers on the plans and accomplishments of the EDC.
Terry Ward, publisher of the Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum, serves on the Economic Development Corp. board of directors.