Visioning the Loop
It is an exciting time for the Loop.
A slow (but noticeable) economic recovery is underway, and an engaged city hall, enhanced partnerships and new leadership are illuminating opportunities for Chicago Loop Alliance and its many constituents. CLA has been successful in meeting the needs of these constituents, but in order to move to the next level, we need to focus on the long-term. As the Loop has evolved, we must also evolve.
Which is why it is time for CLA to undertake a strategic plan.
The essence of the strategic plan is to clearly understand our constituent needs and set a long term vision for the Loop. By building around the longer-term, CLA can address specific interests while advancing a larger vision. The strategic planning process will allow CLA to build ownership in a shared vision for downtown—setting a mission for what we intend to do—and establish how we get there through specific projects, programs and actions.
With a clear vision, mission and set of actions, CLA will deliver a dynamic, compelling and consistent urban experience—one that attracts local, regional, national and global investment and visitors. We will significantly raise the economic health of the Loop and position CLA as a leader in the future of downtown Chicago.
The strategic planning process—which I announced at last week’s Annual Meeting—is already underway. Here is how things are shaping up:
- In March, our team of consultants -- planning experts from firm MIG -- will be in Chicago to interview stakeholders, review online surveys and take a series of tours of the area. From this process, we will identify challenges and opportunities and set the context for the strategic plan.
- In April, the consultants will return for additional interviews and a daylong retreat with the Board of Directors. At the retreat, we will set the vision and mission and establish the strategic framework for the CLA going forward.
- Throughout the rest of April and into May, CLA and the consultants will populate the strategic framework with specific projects, programs and actions. These will represent the how we intend to advance the vision and mission of CLA while addressing the needs of multiple constituents.
- And by June, CLA will have our five year plan, which will include short and long range projects, timelines, responsible parties and benchmarks to assure progress. We will also complete a 2014 budget for submission to the City of Chicago, and implement recommended organizational changes and an aggressive marketing and communication plan to take control of, and lead, the narrative of the Chicago Loop.
In the coming days, weeks and months, we will be reaching out to many of you for your input, through surveys and informal interviews. And in case you are curious about our progress, I will continue to provide updates through posts on our blog and in our monthly newsletter.
Whether you are a CLA member, contributor to the SSA or one of the hundreds of thousands of people who make the Loop the place we all love, thank you—we couldn’t do it without you.