IMAGINE Berks - Connect The Dots Insights
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Berks County, Pennsylvania

Executive Summary:

IMAGINE Berks was an 8 month planning process aimed to develop a 5-Year Action Plan for Berks County PA to encourage sustainable land development, improve local regulatory and tax policies, and achieve competitive market positioning to sustain and grow existing businesses and attract new ones throughout the county. With Fourth Economy, Connect the Dots led the engagement efforts to gather input from local stakeholders, leaders, community members, and businesses, employing a multi-layered engagement approach that included stakeholder interviews, community tours and listening sessions, intensive workshops, and an advisory committee. The insights collected were distilled into a series of recommendations that contributed to the development of the IMAGINE BERKS Strategic Economic Development Action Plan, which was released in June 2022.

Services Performed:

Connect the Dots crafted an innovative Engagement Plan that featured a series of stakeholder engagement and workshop sessions that unfolded as follows:

  • Throughout the planning process, CTD conducted dozens of stakeholder interviews together with the wider team
  • Meetings with community leaders were carried out with planned full days of tours and listening sessions to develop understanding of the community’s needs and priorities for economic development. 
  • An advisory committee of public sector, private sector, and nonprofit leaders throughout the County was also formed and met regularly throughout the process to provide input and guidance on the proposed strategies. 
  • CTD worked with Fourth Economy to develop and lead a series of six ‘Build Sessions’: intensive facilitated workshops with stakeholders designed to dig deep into the needs and opportunities and co-create strategies and solutions.

Project Outcomes:

Over several months, CTD worked to engage stakeholders, community members, and businesses alike to provide feedback and input for the IMAGINE BERKS plan. 

  • The online survey provided important insights from over 440 people from 69 different municipalities.
  • 42 stakeholder interviews were completed representing varied backgrounds, including residents, small business owners, industry leaders, and elected officials.
  • Gathered insights culminated in the publishing of the IMAGINE BERKS Strategic Economic Development Action Plan released in June 2022, supporting the realization of the vision of Berks County as a place where all residents and businesses can thrive, entrepreneurship and innovation flourish, and the region’s diversity is celebrated and supported.