The Strategic Planning and Information Unit was established in the Merhavim Regional Council this year with the assistance of Partnership 2000. Roni Alon coordinates the unit's activity. The Strategic Planning Unit was designed to develop tools and work patterns in the organization and in the community for the purpose of identifying, planning and promoting activities and projects, and creating conditions for growth and development in the region. All this is from a strategic view which takes into account trends and processes in the region and its surroundings, and the reciprocal relations between various spheres.
What has been done so far in the area of strategic planning in Merhavim?
* Identification of a regional agenda and a municipal agenda as a basis for defining the unit's areas of activity.
* Individual meetings with position holders (department heads in the organization) for the purpose of presenting the work patterns of the Strategic Planning Unit to key position holders on the one hand, and determining their expectations from the unit on the other hand - and also identifying primary areas of activity for the unit during its initial period of activity.
* Initial phases in developing the unit's tools and work patterns in the organization and in the community.
* Establishment of a strategic steering forum that integrates the efforts of department heads in the council, experts in the region, and community representatives. This forum has convened in this format twice so far, and an additional meeting will take place in October, at which the process of identifying and organizing a basket of services for the council will begin.
* A strategic planning advisor was hired in order to formulate a work plan for the unit, and to provide professional advice to the steering forum for the purpose of developing operating procedures.
Key issues in the council's region which we are expected to address:
* Demographic growth and expansion of communities
* Creating a community identity and an image of the region and its communities
* Organization and expansion of institutions and public and municipal services
* Developing sources of employment (within the council and outside of it)
* Developing tourism
* Fostering agriculture, open space and ecological awareness
* Maximizing the potential of the region's accessibility to the center of the country and to Beersheva
* Adopting an outline plan as a guiding council policy paper, and statutory approval
* Developing a housing infrastructure for the communities and a supra-regional infrastructure
* Mobilizing resources for projects
* Employment support (transit points, employment regions)
* Establishing bodies for promotion of tourism (tourism association, forum of tourism entrepreneurs in the region)
* Process for modifying the school system (advanced stages)
* A community-wide approach in the Department of Social Services and Urban Renewal
Integration of Regional and Municipal Agendas
* In general there is a great deal of compatibility within the two agendas. The significance of this is that the council primarily deals with the areas which are important to regional development.
* The municipal system, and especially the "soft" departments, have generated organizational information resources which are an asset to the council and the region, such as:
* Inter-departmental work patterns
* Regional collaboration and recruitment of partners and resources from outside region (primarily in the areas of tourism and employment)
* Public involvement
On the agenda of the Steering committee of this project: A process for community participation in setting (and publicizing) the municipal services basket for the communities and residents of the Merhavim Regional Council.