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Gladstone plans for the future

September 7, 2012
By Jason Raiche , Daily Press

GLADSTONE - Discussion on strategic planning for the city of Gladstone over the next few years wrapped up Thursday during a Gladstone City Commission Strategic Planning Workshop at Lakeview Assisted Living.

According to Gladstone City Manager Darla Falcon, the city is working to develop a strategic plan, similar to one the city previously created in 2008, which served as the starting point of brainstorming and discussions that took place Wednesday and Thursday. The goal is to build on the previous plan to implement a good four-year strategic plan for the future.

"We did a citizen survey that was filled out in June ... and that really provided the basis for this planning," said Elizabeth DeLage, president of Arlington Business Solutions, the group evaluating the citizen survey data.

Forty-two percent of Gladstone citizens responded to the survey, and officials feel confident the survey provided them with a majority of citizen opinions.

Discussion during the strategic planning workshop focused mainly on four key areas.

"We're talking about key areas that are focused on customer satisfaction, organizational culture, internal operations and financial performance," explained DeLage, noting that in each category there are specific strategies to work on that address each area.

Much of the discussion focused on marketing strategies for the city to bring in additional revenue.

"If everything stays the same and the city is committed not to raising taxes or rates, then there needs to be an infusion of revenue from some place," explained DeLage. "Part of the idea is capitalizing on this really great location that is Gladstone."

Marketing strategies have just been discussed in a general sense right now and ideas will become more specific when it comes to the plan, with the city prioritizing its needs.

"I think the big idea here is that, while we talked about marketing as a 'need to do' four years ago, because of the recession, that wasn't even possible," said DeLage. "So now it's coming back up that it's becoming more of a need ... to focus on marketing and letting people know how great Gladstone actually is and bringing people in as a source of revenue."

This does not mean the city plans to change any of its fundamental tenants that people cherish, such as its safe, small-town, community-based feel and great quality of life, but to try to draw more people there to vacation, fish, use the campgrounds or waterfront - any activity that could draw in more money to the community.

"We've talked quite a bit about marketing, identifying our assets and then, how do we market that to the rest of the United States?" said Falcon. "How do we get the tourists here?"

Falcon said one potential idea is to work with the Chamber of Commerce to brainstorm internally.

"A lot of this is going to be thrown back to myself and my staff, creating internal plans, bringing them back to the commission," she said.

The strategic planning workshop featured input not only from city departments, but from the city commission, the Downtown Development Authority, Economic Development Corporation board, Planning Commission, and Recreation Board, as well as a Gladstone Area Public Schools representative.

"It's a really good well-rounded planning session," said DeLage. "We are incorporating lots of different perspectives and areas of expertise."

Falcon said the goal is to have the strategic plan completed by December, and begin its implementation in 2013.

She said there are plans to share both the results of the citizen survey and ideas from some initial planning meetings they have held, details of which are forthcoming.



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