Let’s start with what appears to be their slogan: “The Common Good + Common Sense.” Years of experience have taught me to always, always beware of anyone leaning on the phrase “common sense.” Don Perry, certified dope, was a big believer is “common sense.” It’s a feel-good, meaningless phrase, one that’s open to many interpretations.
The draft document I saw starts with an explanation of the “design” of their efforts: Broken down into The Quality of Place Statement, Community Economic Development Definition and a Sense of Urgency Statement – they provide an inventory of information from which the strategic plan has been developed.
The strategic plan structure consists of four goal statements, strategies and action plans that are interrelated in respect to metrics and are interconnected and dependent upon each other.
Each goal, strategy or action statement may include a measurement component which is time, quantity or result/impact. Full completion of the plan will include an assignment of action plans to either an organization or individual.
Please note that last bit about “action plans” being assigned to organizations…or individuals.
We are Port Angeles, Washington
We are small town America, built on a foundation of hard work, determination and innovation. The people who came here were rugged, self-reliant and determined. They cut trees to build the Northwest and fished the waters to feed the nation. We are a town of innovation and determination.
We are a nuanced town; where majestic mountains greet the sea. Buildings rich with detail and sturdy in construction hide stories of the past within their walls and beneath our feet. Innovation brims from technology companies set in a setting of natural wonder. Our college is an educational gem of the Northwest. Our varied shops intrigue you. Our pubs and restaurants entice you.
We are an international town. We are surrounded by sovereign nations where native people cherish a rich and varied culture.
We are a unique town…where a background of hard work has created a city that celebrates the awe-inspiring setting that surrounds us.
We are Port Angeles, America USA
Note the repetitive, almost ritualistic use of the word “innovation,” which, in the context of Port Angeles, is laughable. Innovation implies actions that are creative, new; Port Angeles is a stolid little town years behind the times.
Note also how the “rugged, self-reliant” white people who came here last are acknowledged first. The “native people” who were here long before the whites get an afterthought of a mention at the end. This racist viewpoint is part of the problem here, a barrier to healing, growth and open communication between local interest groups.
Finally, can anyone tell me how Peninsula College is an “educational gem of the Northwest”? And does anyone really think that Port Angeles “celebrates the awe-inspiring setting that surrounds us”?
COMMUNITY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT DEFINITION
The purpose of economic development in the greater Port Angeles area is to strategically grow our economy by increasing our economic capacity to improve our future and quality of life. It is a process by which public, business and nongovernmental sector partners work collaboratively to retain economic productivity and create viable conditions for prosperity and employment generation.
Please, read this section out loud. Twice. Does it make sense to you? Does it really mean anything? This is boilerplate jargon that obscures much more than it reveals. Meaningless catchphrases arranged randomly does not convey much quality of life or viable conditions. Right?
Port Angeles United (PAU) must act professionally and quickly with its effort to assist in defining our economic development plan of future growth. By growth, we mean increased employment at all wage points, increased property values, higher sales tax collections, increased number and diversity of employers in our greater community.
Group participants in the PAU “process” must seize this opportunity now. Our voice can be heard and will be considered relevant, well-considered and in the finest community-minded tradition as a defined plan takes shape.
As a poster here once said, we should also beware of “Urgency Statements.” They are often intended as “don’t think or check facts – ACT NOW!” statements. Also, without a defined plan, what exactly are people seizing?
Goal #1: Cultivate a Vibrant Community for Business and Entrepreneurs – by the end of 2020, the greater Port Angeles region will have a strong and attractive business community with over 2000 establishments, total employment of 17,410…and improved access to business capital.
Goal #2: Enhance and Promote an Attractive PA – By the end of 2020, the greater Port Angeles region will be recognized as an attractive and rewarding place to visit with 440,000 yearly MV Coho passengers, over a 60% lodging occupancy rate and lodging tax revenues over $560,000. The region will also be a desirable place to live and work with City of Port Angeles retails sales over $367M and over $42M in building investments.
Goal #3: PA is an Exceptional Place – By 2020, the greater Port Angeles region will be recognized and celebrate its “special” community characteristics and features, be the home for over 38,000 people with 23% being people between 25-44 years of age, have high performing educational institutions and easy access to the natural environment.
Strategy 3A – Starting in 2015, Downtown Port Angeles will be the community focal point for unique innovation businesses, a 24X7 neighborhood, an international gateway, and a connection to the marine environment reaching and maintaining a 95% occupancy rate by 2020. (NOTE: Change suggested…”and a city wide commercial business occupancy of 95% by 2020.”)
Strategy 3C – Crate a conduit of communication and collaboration to foster a full spectrum of quality educational institutions with Peninsula College as an attractive alternative for 4 year education.
Goal #4: PA United for Community Prosperity
First, and most painfully obviously, Goals 1 and 4 are essentially the same, as are Goals 2 and 3. Like the repetitive use of “innovation” in the beginning, just saying something over and over again doesn’t make it true.
Second, a city wide 95% occupancy rate seems wildly unrealistic. I’m all for dreaming big, but, come on. That’s a very steep climb from where we are. We also have a lot of very run down commercial properties/spaces, and lots of checked-out or absentee slumlord landlords who don’t want to fix their properties – at all.
Also, we have no real control over the number of passengers passing through on the Coho.
Finally, I love how they manage to contradict themselves within one sentence with “Strategy 3C.” They want to “foster a full spectrum of quality educational institutions” while promoting “Peninsula College as an attractive alternative for 4 year education.” Seems to me that if you wanted to really push the education envelope, rather than shuttling people away from four year colleges, it would be better to help grow PC towards becoming a four year college.
And so, does what you’ve read here give you hope for PA Untied, or does it sound like the same-old, same-old with a new name? Given the players involved, do you trust their intents, or are you wary?