Evaluation of the Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) Teams Pilot: Final Report. A2.3.1 Developing the Work Plan

08/25/2014

Before implementation began in November 2011, the city had identified three key priorities for team member activities: 1) improving coordination between technical education, workforce development, and economic development programs; 2) supporting the Port Authority’s efforts to maintain a viable commercial harbor; and 3) navigating federal regulatory processes to efficiently achieve neighborhood development, housing, and land reuse goals. These priorities served as a starting point for the work plan.

The actual work plan was developed collaboratively by team members, city stakeholders, and community partners following the SC2 pilot launch. Stakeholders described the work plan development process as focused on a single large meeting with city, community, and team members in attendance. The meeting was held in late November 2011 during the pilot launch week. All parties were welcome to share their ideas for inclusion in the work plan. The work plan was refined through subsequent individual and small group meetings.

Though some effort was made to prioritize the suggestions, the initial work plan was quite lengthy and included 30 items for the SC2 team and the city to address together. The plan drew on the priorities that emerged in the OAT assessment but it expanded based on new opportunities such as those NASA brought forward. City officials also suggested that the work plan broaden to ensure that there were projects relevant to each team member’s area of expertise. Some items included in the work plan were considered low-hanging fruit that could produce easy wins to be addressed immediately, while other items were considered highly complex with no clear path forward or with longer timelines for success. This first work plan was produced and completed in February 2012 and revised in August 2012.

Perceptions of the effectiveness of the work planning process were varied. Some praised the collaborative and inclusive approach, while others felt the outcome of that process was unwieldy and unfocused.

Several participants (both city and federal) described the process as “getting everybody in a room and throwing ideas against the wall to see what sticks.”

The Year 2 work plan, completed in late 2012, was more streamlined, Reflecting lessons learned from the first year, the plan included 16 action items (down from the first year’s 30) and more clearly identified follow-up responsibilities for both the SC2 team and the city.
 

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