Wayne Tomorrow! Guiding Principles lay out an an integrated "principle based" approach to making dramatic change in an uncertain and continually changing landscape.
- Guiding Principles
- Historical Insights
- Wayne Tomorrow
- Building the Ecosystem
- Defining Guiding Principles
Wayne Tomorrow! Guiding Principles
Wayne County, through Wayne Tomorrow, seeks to build a robust multi-dimensional economic and cultural ecosystem that will effectively address and reverse certain negative trends the county has been observing. This new ecosystem will be the foundation for ensuring improved conditions are achieved and then maintained into the future in spite of facing new challenges and a constantly changing landscape.
To accomplish this, Wayne Tomorrow intends to follow a formal change management approach utilizing a set of guiding principles that maintain a healthy/sustained balance between the following diverse environmental ecosystem factors:
- A healthy economy that affords its citizens significantly improved employment opportunities such that the County is consistently ranked within the top 25% of per capita wages as measured against the PA and national economies.
- A culturally and environmentally rich environment and physical infrastructure that serves to attract population and business growth/formation by offering a diverse and supportive array of cultural, educational, recreational, technological and quality of life outlets and opportunities (while simultaneously protecting Wayne County's unique natural environment).
- A forward-thinking technology platform and physical infrastructure, including affordable high-speed broadband, that will support the 21st Century needs of its people and businesses.
- An understanding that in addition to open and candid internal communications, there will be an ongoing need for Wayne County to aggressively market itself to people and organizations beyond its borders. This interdependency with northeast population centers is needed to facilitate business attraction, economic advancement and population growth.
- A public and private commitment to ensure that the necessary financial and human investment capital is available on a timely basis to ensure ongoing success for the county and its citizens.
- A reinvigorated entrepreneurial culture where motivation and achievement are driven by a “growth mindset”; where effort is rewarded, challenges are viewed as a source for learning, and risk is acknowledged as an element of growth and development.
This integrated and balanced approach will be routinely benchmarked and measured using a set of competitive KPI's (Key Performance Indicators). By measuring performance in this way, individual initiatives can be continually adjusted to meet aggressive goals in spite of constantly changing conditions.
Wayne County along with its neighbor Pike County, represents a beautiful and largely pristine rural region of Pennsylvania that has also had a successful and diverse economic and cultural history. Owing to its proximity to eastern population centers and to the vast coal reserves located in and around Scranton, Wayne County became a significant driver of the early economic activity and growth of America.
It began in 1828 with the building of the Delaware and Hudson canal system to transport coal and other goods to east coast population centers. This was quickly supplanted by the commercial railroad industry that actually began in Wayne County's county seat, Honesdale (the Stourbridge Lion was the first commercial locomotive on rails in the western hemisphere). The Canal and Railroad eras in-turn created an enviable economic and transportation infrastructure that supported a growing population and spawned a third era of community based manufacturing that continued through the early to mid twentieth century.
However, beginning around World War II, the economic advantages afforded by having a robust manufacturing and rail infrastructure began to diminish and the local economy started shifting to one largely based on the sectors of Retail Trade and Recreational Accommodations and Food Service. Unfortunately, these also happen to be among the lowest paying sectors in the state and national economies when it comes to family sustaining wages. It is largely for this reason that today, Wayne County ranks near the bottom in terms of its relative per capita wages.
This trend has gradually led to a population mix of aging long-term residents that tend to be more economically challenged as compared with their part-time and retired neighbors that generally tend to be more affluent.
A New, Integrated Approach
In 2013, Wayne County recognized that these evolving trends were leading to unsustainable communities from an economic, cultural and educational perspective. This realization led to the creation of Wayne Tomorrow!, a commissioner and community supported planning initiative aimed at reversing these trends through community planned initiatives across a number of dimensions including quality of life, sustainability, economic development, youth and education (workforce development) and agriculture.
One of the early take-a-ways from this work was the commonality and interconnectedness between individuals and organizations when identifying those things that were most important for the county to consider for ensuring a bright and positive future.
Over a period of several years, dedicated work groups working under the Wayne Tomorrow umbrella identified goals and prioritized a number of short- and long-term projects that are covered in some depth in The Wayne Tomorrow! Strategic Plan. The Strategic Plan represents an integrated and staged development plan, which is the basis of a dynamic and evolving economic and cultural ecosystem that is envisioned to be foundational for future community and business growth.
Building the Economic & Cultural Ecosystem
Wayne County has already begun implementing certain ecosystem components such as the Stourbridge Project, a business Incubator/Accelerator and Co-working hub within the region.
Elements of Life
Almost all leading literature on the subjects of community and economic development suggests the importance of building natural ecosystems where all the essential “elements of life” co-exist in a balanced and integrated fashion. In this context, we’re talking about making sure the essential elements needed for creating a supportive and adaptable “growth environment” are in place. Consider this a blended virtual and physical environment where the “germ” of good and interconnected ideas can take hold and flourish. The essential and highly interdependent elements of Wayne County's Economic and Cultural Ecosystem include the following:
- Access to affordable quality healthcare and education (early childhood through focused career training) that serves the needs of residents and facilitates diverse population growth
- Access to essential building blocks for sustained economic development and employment growth (Job creation should be focused on sustainability and increasing the average income levels of county residents. )
- Access to proven business coaching expertise and mentor-ship
- Fulfillment of an ongoing digital community structure which facilitates timely information sharing between physically dispersed residents and builds a enhanced sense of "community"
- Investment capital for business formation and social infrastructure projects
- Physical facilities for business incubation and growth
- A technological infrastructure that supports the starting and operating of modern businesses
- A safe and attractive physical environment that's conducive to building sustainable businesses and raising a family that's centered on maintaining a long term relationship with Wayne County
- Existence of vibrant social and recreational outlets that serve the diverse needs of resident's from different age groups and socio-economic backgrounds.
Given the pace of technological and cultural changes, it is virtually impossible to predict with certainty what the future will look like in just 10 years, let alone 15 or 20. While Wayne Tomorrow! projects may today represent concrete tangible ideas for producing anticipated and positive results, they may well require adaptive changes along the way.
Key to Building
The key to Wayne County building an effective and adaptable ecosystem and keeping pace with the evolving demands of the modern era is adherence to core principles that will necessarily guide public discourse and decision making. So what is a core principle and why is it so important?
In the most basic sense, principles are defined as basic tenets or truth’s that serve to guide an entity or organization in all circumstances throughout its life, irrespective of changes in its goals, strategies, or its public or private leadership. Adherence to these core principles is critically important since without them, change becomes random and the organization can easily fall victim to constantly morphing circumstances, in essence “sailing without a rudder.”
Change will most assuredly occur, the question is whether it happens “to” an organization or whether it’s directed and whether the organization is actively managing the change process consistent with stated values as codified in a set of guiding principles.
Core principles tend to represent basic tenets that most everyone agrees with, but things that often never enter into formal discussions or decision making. Without creating a principle based decision filter that forces attention to the proper balancing/weighting of core principles, unintended and negative results can easily occur (such as a lack of connectivity between people and organizations and the perpetuation of a "silo" focused culture). One of the keys is to gain buy in up-front on how an organization intends to handle conflicts between principles which, on the surface, may appear to be at odds with one another.
It’s relatively easy to dismiss an action that is consistent with one principle, but tends to negatively impact one or more others. The more difficult but essential thing is to ensure there’s an active filtering process that allows the various individuals and entities comprising Wayne Tomorrow! to step back and make balanced decisions. These decisions necessarily need to be based on the "context" of a given situation considering the effect of any particular action as measured against the net overall effect looked at within a guiding framework that always considers the full effects of pro's and con's.