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Lee County Courthouse by Ron Cogswell via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

Community Development Foundation (Tupelo/Lee County, MS) – Economic Development Strategic Plan

Challenge

The Community Development Foundation (CDF), which serves as the chamber of commerce and economic development organization for Tupelo/Lee County, Mississippi, has long recognized the transformative power of a vision and a plan. Beginning with the 1946 “Tupelo Plan,” the CDF has implemented a series of plans that have enabled Tupelo to re-invent itself more than once over the course of its 60-year history. This evolution has taken the community from an agricultural-based economy to a modern manufacturing center, including the attraction of a Toyota manufacturing plant in 2007. However, despite its many successes, Tupelo’s furniture industry–an important regional driver—had suffered significantly in the face of globalization.

Response

The CDF engaged TIP Strategies to prepare the 2010–2020 Strategic Plan, the fifth of Tupelo/Lee County’s 10-year strategic planning efforts. The resulting plan was centered on four simple strategies: sustain past efforts; recruit new companies, attract people; and nourish and promote new ideas. A primary objective of the plan was to serve as a catalyst for the transformation of Lee County’s economy from furniture manufacturing to a knowledge economy based on advanced manufacturing and professional services. Within these broad sectors, TIP identified specific niches, including automotive parts, electronic instruments, medical equipment and supplies, and shared service centers. In addition, the team provided guidance on enhancing the CDF’s efforts related to international recruitment, clean technology, and entrepreneurship. Following the plan’s adoption in 2010, the CDF organized implementation teams around key strategies, including furthering its entrepreneurial development efforts, developing a new business park, and launching a Lee County alumni network.

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