A MYSI Can Help Communities to Come Out of an Economic Crisis Like COVID-19

22 May 2020


A multi-year strategic initiative (MYSI) is better than an “annual program of work” for both organizational funding and for impactful economic development. Chambers of Commerce and Economic Development Organizations are using multi-year strategic initiatives to successfully raise capital that can be used to fund programs, initiatives, projects and staffing needs.

The MYSI Is A Proven Approach

Forward Sioux Falls, with the help of NCDS, has raised over $50 million through 7 successive 5-year campaigns. Every 5 years, the boards of the Sioux Falls Chamber and the Economic Development Foundation come together to prioritize community needs and opportunities. NCDS raises funds for the joint venture, with funds going to the organizations as they are responsible for implementing their portion of the strategic plan. This has allowed for long-term planning, along with tangible activities and results. “The community feels that Forward Sioux Falls has worked incredibly well and are very proud of its success,” said Jason Ball, (former) President & CEO of the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce. As a result, they continue to fund a new MYSI every five years.

Forward Sioux Falls is not alone. Here are a few of the other communities who have raised capital using a Multi-Year Strategic Initiative 

  • Atlanta
  • Austin
  • Charleston
  • Chattanooga
  • Columbus
  • Denver
  • Des Moines
  • Fargo
  • Indianapolis
  • Lexington
  • Jonesboro 
  • Madison
  • Minneapolis
  • Mobile
  • Nashville
  • Oklahoma City
  • Phoenix
  • Raleigh
  • Shreveport
  • Sioux Falls
  • Tacoma
  • Topeka

In Jonesboro, Arkansas the first MYSI was so successful they will be launching a second one. NCDS completed a feasibility study and helped the organization to raise $3.5-million. “We have 135 entities that have invested 3.5 million to ensure our successes. We created a separate board for Jonesboro Unlimited’s MYSI which provides an additional level of accountability, along with focused and acute communication between us and investors. It continues to provide the governance structure I think is appropriate when you have a high level of funding for a specific purpose,” said Mark Young, Jonesboro Unlimited CEO. 

Their approach has worked. In the first three years of their MYSI, Jonesboro Unlimited has helped to create 2,100 jobs and over $280-million in new development and construction. Young summed up the benefits of a multi-year plan vs. the annual transactional model when saying, “A 5-year plan seems like a long time but it’s not, so we are very focused on what we are doing, on executing and reporting back to investors.” There is a great deal of work that goes into implementing a strategic plan. The MYSI ensures that effort is spent on implementation rather than continually raising capital. 

Multiple multi-year strategic initiatives can also help communities to come out of an economic crisis, as Missoula, Montana discovered. From 2007 – 2010 they lost their largest employers and 5,000 jobs. In 2011, NCDS helped establish the Missoula Economic Partnership, and to raise $3.5-million over 5 years to fund it. James Grunke was hired as the CEO and subsequently completed two MYSI campaigns with NCDS. He attributes the success of the campaigns and economic results to the MYSI and community leadership. “Missoula is a success story with a very committed mayor and private sector leadership, led by the hospital CEO and a local bank president. With the right community leadership, a MYSI can be successful, and this one certainly was. 10,000 new jobs were created over the past nine years and 97 companies started in the community. There are more people working on the site (where the second largest employer was previously located) than when they closed,” said Grunke.

A MYSI Can Help Communities to Come Out of COVID-19

Missoula, and similar communities, are proof that with the right leadership and local commitment, an MYSI can help communities to come out of an economic crisis - a crisis like what we are experiencing now throughout the country. Now is not the right time to put the breaks on economic development. Instead, it is a time to amplify efforts to ensure a faster recovery. Since a multi-year strategic initiative is focused on addressing immediate needs while also taking a long-term approach to growth, it is the ideal solution for funding recovery efforts at the local community level. 

    Learn more about how to launch a MYSI by downloading our whitepaper or by contacting Tom DiFore, President of National Community Development Services (NCDS) at (404) 231-0730 or email tdifiore@ncdsinc.net.