Strategic Plan

Naturally Lewis Aspirational Statement

What we intend to to

Lewis County Economic Development, through its board, the IDA and its brand, Naturally Lewis, are championing the growth of a community where people want to live, work, build business and play. We foster forward thinking and relationship building, connecting people, businesses, partnerships and resources to effectively and efficiently grow our county.

We focus on creating a solid and sustainable economic base by supporting practical, realistic programs and policies that advance businesses through diversification and by expanding markets locally, nationally and internationally. We are the bridge builders, proactively seeking and leading development for new and existing businesses, while leveraging our natural resources.

We believe growth comes from thoughtful risk taking, building community partnerships and making wise investments. Naturally Lewis is our mechanism for advocating and advising on investments and education that build a great quality of life, sustainable employment and collaborative plans that make Lewis County a community to thrive at work and at home.

Outreach & Visibility

We are strengthening our Outreach and Visibility to:

  • Develop a comprehensive Business Retention + Expansion program through outreach, visibility and data collection
  • Increase community outreach to our stakeholders and populations in which we can have an impact on through programming and education
  • Target an external audience to move back to the area, move to the area, promote the area, and start their business in Lewis County
  • Bring business and community members together for events that promote education, networking and relationship building to strengthen our community brand and partnership

Research & Education

We are engaging in Research & Education to:

  • Make data informed decisions on projects and community investments through research development
  • Implement best practices from around the country through benchmarking
  • Create a comprehensive entrepreneurial educational program and ecosystem to facilitate new business growth, job creation and mentorship
  • Work with our communities to better understand the development opportunities available

Develop Policies

We are Developing Policy to:

  • Evolve IDA incentive program and policies to encourage more job creation and sound development practices
  • Advocate for economic development at the local, regional and state levels, making it easier to do business in Lewis County

Developing Partnerships

We are Developing Partnerships to:

  • Leverage the knowledge and expertise of our business community to seek guidance and create ‘boots on the ground’ community initiatives
  • Leverage the knowledge and expertise of Economic Development Partners on a local, regional and state level to engage in new collaborative projects and implementation of existing projects
  • Facilitate External Relationship Building to ensure communication and collaboration among our largest employers, our smallest businesses and stakeholders

Strategic Funding Development

We are Developing Strategic Funding Opportunities to:

  • Strengthen and build various operational funding streams to support IDA functions
  • Strengthen and build various external funding streams to support our entrepreneurs, businesses and manufacturers in Lewis County
  • Find opportunities to invest in community projects that will help to strengthen a downtown, industry or community as a whole

Strategic Plan Journey

How we got here

Phase 1: Discovering the Strengths, Opportunities and Aspirations for the Future

The Strategic Planning Working Group lead in the creation of the Naturally Lewis Economic Development Strategic Plan and is working with an external facilitator, Christie Andrus-Nakano, using an appreciative, strengths-based process to understand the best of the past, dream about the best future and design the way forward together. As part of the discovery process, the IDA Board and Staff Working Group invited interested stakeholders to participate discussions at the February 2020 Business Leaders Breakfast where more than eighty people in attendance shared their thoughts on Lewis County thriving.

Phase 2: Building a Plan with Aspirational Results

The second phase took place in March 2020 where the Board and Staff reviewed the input from Phase 1 – building on the strengths, opportunities and dreams to draft a plan and finalize the Strategic Plan. The finalizing of the Plan was deferred when the pandemic restrictions arose in March and the process resumed with the Board and Staff Working Group in October 2020 where this plan was completed. The process was designed to ensure the creation of a new strategic vision that meets the needs of the current Lewis County community in ways that emphasize collaborative, effective and efficient delivery of programs and services to enhance the vitality and viability of Lewis County’s economy, making it truly a place to live, work, build business and play. 


Taking Advantage of Unexpected Delays

While COVID-19 precautions prevented the initial completion of the Naturally Lewis Strategic Plan Framework process. The group opted to leverage this time in two ways: 

  • By identifying priority focal areas that align with the draft aspirations already identified by the Board and Working Group in the initial phase of the planning. This was intended to help staff prioritize and focus their efforts (time and other resource utilization) during these unprecedented times. 
  • Secondly, by bringing together key partners in planning, workforce, tourism, natural resources, adult education and research in August 2020, staff were able to get feedback on the draft aspirational statement and intentions prior to the Working Group’s finalizing of the Plan in the Fall.

The Working Group was able leverage these pilot priorities and the learnings from the partner feedback as they reconvened in the October 2020 finalize the strategic plan.