Ocala/Marion County Economic Development Corporation, FL – Marion County Action Plan

The Challenge In 2009, Marion County had double digit losses in ten of the nineteen industrial sectors. The sluggish economy had drastically impacted job opportunities and kept unemployment elevated with continued job losses in construction, retail, hospitality and some manufacturing. In the face of these hard economic times, the business community felt a new approach to economic development should be adopted. As a result, a joint task force composed of representatives from the Ocala / Marion County Chamber of Commerce and the Ocala / Marion County Economic Development Corporation was formed to evaluate a merger of the two organizations.

The Approach TIP Strategies was hired to assist in the planning of a new delivery system for economic development in the county that would be spearheaded by the merged organization – the Ocala / Marion County Chamber and Economic Partnership. In addition, TIP assisted in the development of an action plan to guide the merger. To provide a common framework for the resulting recommendations, TIP began by compiling demographic and economic data on Marion County, the State of Florida, and the nation. The purpose was to understand Marion County’s relative economic position and highlight its competitive advantages and disadvantages. In addition, TIP interviewed organizations from across the US that serve as both chambers of commerce and economic development organizations. TIP also conducted interviews with recently merged organization. These interviews provided valuable insights and best practices to inform the organizational recommendations and action plan. TIP also conducted a survey of the board members of each existing organization to collect input on their programmatic priorities. As part of the planning process, a group of community leaders from Marion County travelled to Austin to participate in a two-day intensive workshop to define the new organization’s value proposition, strategic direction, organizational structure, and board composition.

The Outcome TIP provided a comprehensive plan for a new delivery system, which covered governance, members, operations, strategic planning, and even sample job descriptions. In addition, TIP provided a detailed transition plan for the Transition Team to follow. The goal of the new organization will be to build strong relationships and foster collaboration among the many stakeholders to ensure that everyone is working towards shared goals. In order that the new organization establish a proven track record, build credibility, and become an indispensable resource for Marion County, TIP developed a well-defined strategic direction with clearly articulated priorities and desired outcomes. This also included identifying performance measures and developing a strong value proposition, mission, and vision. With the Marion County Action Plan in place, the Ocala / Marion County Chamber and Economic Partnership hopes to develop into the central and driving entity for everyone concerned with growth and vitality in the county.

Managing Director

Photo credit Ebyabe

Photo credit Ebyabe