by John S. Cox, CCE, CEcD, IOM
President & CEO
Systemic change and multi-generational sustainability don’t happen in vacuums or by accident. Both are achieved by communities, which are, among other things, aspirational, intentional and relational. Communities which care about and self-determine their futures aspire to be better than they are, are intentional about becoming better and create powerful relationships with stakeholders who are pursuing the same results.
The collective impact of such synergy is compelling in making a community more able to address needs and more able to align resources within the community. Communities like those make it count—and so must we.
Partnerships and alliances permeate our region and state. A bigger initiative will be to find ways to move beyond those and move toward aligning organizations—examining the degree to which organizations share values, beliefs and behaviors. Instead of sharing each other’s strategic plans for informational purposes these aligning organizations engage in shared strategies for collective impact purposes resulting in communities with exponentially greater capacity.
The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s Five Year Strategic Plan for Economic Development identifies metrics for aligning plans and processes across state, regional and local entities toward the state’s economic development goals—they are making it count. The Southwest Florida Economic Development Alliance, a five county economic development start-up is also making it count.
The collective impact of such synergy is compelling in making a community more able to address needs and more
able to align resources within the community.
While each of our five counties continues to improve individual “product” county by county, the Alliance is selling the region to the world as the next and best choice for quality economic and community development. We are becoming aligned as organizations. It’s not easy but it is possible. One recent demonstration was the Alliance’s first outbound marketing mission.
We took representatives from three of our five counties, a member of the alliance board, and a couple investors to Atlanta for a Consultant/Broker event. We met with site selectors—people who make location decisions.
For all of them it was their first introduction to our region as a competitive destination for business investment. They of course had questions and provided valuable feedback. We told the Southwest Florida story. They were also impressed to see the alignment, i.e. The Collective Impact. We made it count.
The Partnership for Collier’s Future Economy is also becoming an aligned organization. A strategic plan was written and underwritten by the community, fully vetted, amended and adopted. That strategy, a result of a partnership with the Collier County Board of Commissioners, lead to the creation of an implementation plan. We are ready to open the implementation plan and begin our new work in economic and community development. We have identified more than seventy organizations within which we believe the opportunity for alignment exists. And we invite any we may have overlooked to engage with us.
We believe Naples Works and Opportunity Happens. For that to be true everyone needs a spot at the table. From Artis-Naples to the Young Professionals, from the United Way to Ave Maria University—the greatest Collective Impact will only happen when we all are invited to make it count.