What are Future Regions?
The Future Regions initiative was launched in early 2017. It promotes intergovernmental collaboration, broad community engagement, accountability, and strategic foresight to conquer communities’ thorniest long-term challenges. It is an initiative to bring key stakeholders together to discuss the future of their community and prepare a plan for addressing a critical issue that involves multiple local governments, their businesses and community organizations.
We use a planning process called Strategic Foresight with a dash of Strategic Doing. This entails looking at the future through a lens of multiple scenarios – different events that might unfold in the community over the next 20 years. Most planning processes look at the future through a single lens – the shared vision, the single desired future for the community. We believe the act of key stakeholders discussing multiple possible futures and then together creating a plan to address a critical issue affecting them will make communities better able to deal with any issue that arises over time.
One of our objectives, since we are the Local Government Institute, is to engage local units of government as key community stakeholders. Future Regions will model the characteristics that local governments need to remain relevant to their communities:
See overview presentation of the Future Regions initiative.
How Does It Work?
Future Region workshops will engage local units of government, key community organizations, businesses and involve members of the community that are typically not seen when decisions are made. If your community is accepted as a Future Region, you and up to 80 other folks from the region can expect to actively participate in three workshops. The first workshop will focus on trends impacting your community/region (see STEEP Trends document on LGI website). The second workshop will engage participants in discussing various scenarios that may unfold and impact the community either positively or negatively. Common threads are found between the responses to the scenarios that result in a realistic/viable vision to emerge. Finally, the third workshop will be all about working backwards from the desired future to understand what the region needs to do together to address the principal issues over the next 20 years and getting things going by identifying through Strategic Doing, those things that can be accomplished in the next 90 using currently available resources and assets.
We know that many Wisconsin communities are facing big issues and dwindling capacity to deal with them. We have created this program to explore whether collaboration and engagement can help regional communities build capacity to achieve their goals.
How Can We Become A Future Region?
LGI will be selecting Future Regions over the next three years. We have funding to support one or two regional initiatives per year. If you think your community might be interested, please contact Gary Becker at email@example.com. A Future Region may be a small city or village and their surrounding townships, several nearby municipalities and their County, or multiple counties and their key municipalities and townships. The possible configurations that could comprise a Future Region are endless. The key thing is the desire to start talking together about an important issue facing the region – however you define it.
There are no deadlines for applications. Rather, as regions are interested in participating, we ask that you contact LGI directly - firstname.lastname@example.org, and let us know your interest. We will work with you to put together a work plan that makes sense for your region and bring that work plan to the LGI Board for consideration.
There is a cost to participation. LGI is contracting with Rebecca Ryan of Next Generation Consulting to facilitate the Future Regions workshops. LGI will be underwriting 50% of the cost of each workshop. The cost of participating in the Future Regions initiative depends on the population of the communities participating. Costs are estimated as follows:
In addition to the costs shown above, the local share also includes expenses for hosting the events associated with the program such as room costs, dinner for participants and refreshments. Participation in the program includes access to the Polco civic engagement platform - https://polco.us/ - for each participating community group.
For example, let’s assume a municipality and three of its surrounding townships are interested in participating. The population threshold will be determined by adding the populations of all participating jurisdictions within the region. The cost to all participants will be the local share shown next to the population category. Within each region, participants will decide how to come up with their local share. Allocating the local share across the multiple jurisdictions participating should make this an affordable event for just about any locality wanting to participate.
Supporting Our Work
The number of local governments in the state compared to the resources available to LGI for Future Regions is so great, that to have long-term impact we need more funding or partners. If your organization, foundation, or agency has goals aligned with those of Future Regions and are interested in supporting the work we do, please contact email@example.com.
Enrolled Future Regions
The Local Government Institute of Wisconsin has or is working with three regions so far - Chippewa Valley Future Region comprised of Eau Claire County, City of Eau Claire and City of Altoona and focused on the creative economy, a partnership between Sauk County, five chambers of commerce and the Ho Chunk Nation, called One Sauk, Naturally which is focused on aligning place-based planning goals for both Sauk County and the Ho-Chunk Nation within Sauk County, and Portage County Prosperity 2040 comprised of the County, City of Stevens Point, Village of Plover and many of the Towns within portage County to deliberate the future of the region's economic development.
Eau Claire County and the Cities of Altoona and Eau Claire submitted a winning application to take-on the issue of their region’s growing creative economy. “The area has become known for its’ vibrant music and arts scene,” said Eau Claire County Administrator Kathryn Schauf.” We as local governments would like to cooperatively work to nurture and support these efforts to provide continued community growth.”
Participants in the Chippewa Valley Future Region began their process on November 1, 2017 with a trends-focused workshop and completed the third workshop the following January. The six-month coaching period following the final workshop concluded in July 2018. Expected outcomes will include a plan for coordinating local government actions to promote the creative economy as one of the major drivers of the region's future.
Sauk County and the Ho Chunk Nation will look at the long-term future of Sauk County and the Ho-Chunk Nation working together to keep their region a place of remarkable beauty and inspiration. Sauk County's economy is dependent upon the health of the unique natural resources in the County and the prevalence of truly "great places." “This marks a new beginning for Sauk County and the Ho Chunk Nation to actively engage in a collaborative planning process that envisions a shared future,” said Peter Vedro, Sauk County Board Chair.
Ho-Chunk Nation Legislator Carly Lincoln adds, “This is an exciting collaboration and an invigorating step to be taking with Sauk County. Forward thinking initiatives and partnerships such as these move everyone forward, not only with the same focus, but with the reins firmly in hand. This is how we enhance the future of everyone; this is how change occurs and we are excited to get started.” Ho-Chunk Nation Legislator and Sauk County Supervisor Kristin White Eagle notes, “This is truly unprecedented and a welcome change for the betterment of our combined communities. We are excited to be a primary member and work to collaboratively envision a shared future
The cost of participating in the Future Regions initiative depends on the combined population of the communities participating. Costs are estimated as follows:
Population Cost LGI Share Local Share
Less than 150,000 $35,000 - $45,000 $17,500 - $22,500 $17,500 - $22,500
151,000 – 499,999 $48,000 - $58,000 $24,000 - $29,000 $24,000 - $29,000
Over 500,000 $70,000 - $80,000 $35,000 - $40,000 $35,000 - $40,000
In addition to the costs shown above, the local share also includes expenses for hosting the events associated with the program such as room costs, lunch for participants and refreshments. Participation in the program includes access to the Polco civic engagement platform - https://polco.us/ - for each participating community group.
For example, let’s assume a municipality and three of its surrounding townships and a community organization are interested in participating. Forty miles away, another set of communities is interested. They could both participate in a Future Region event for their region. The population threshold will be determined by adding the populations of all participating jurisdictions within the region. The cost to all participants will be the local share shown next to the population category. Within each region, participants will decide how to come up with their local share. Allocating the local share across the multiple jurisdictions participating should make this an affordable event for just about any locality wanting to participate.
Future Regions Press Release V3.pdf
Future Regions Program Summary.pdf