Aiken, South Carolina: Strategizing One Step at a Time
In 1997, the National Civic League dubbed Aiken an "All American City," an honor it shared with nine other cities across the nation. This is quite an achievement for a community that experienced significant job loss during the post-Cold War period. Facing the loss of more than 10,000 U.S. Department of Energy jobs, the City of Aiken began a strategic planning process in 1992 that identified goals related to four themes – Historic City, Family City, Green City, and Business City - and specific action steps for meeting those goals by 2010. These action steps have ranged from improving pedestrian walkways to assisting small business development to expanding health care and social services. By February 2000, more than 30 key initiatives called for in the strategic plan were completed in Aiken, changing the face of the community. A review of these accomplishments illustrates how the strategic planning process has enabled residents in Aiken to control their destiny in the face of adversity.