As global competition for innovative firms and people increases, regional asset mapping serves a number of purposes:
1. Resource Identification: Mapping allows the region’s leadership to identify the resources that can be utilized to support development initiatives. Too often, visionary economic or workforce development efforts begin without a full understanding of the regional asset base. A mismatch between strategy and assets can severely diminish the potential impact of a development initiative.
2. Foundation for Strategic Planning and Implementation: Asset mapping can either lay the foundation for development of a new strategic plan or enable the realignment of existing efforts. Asset mapping helps identify gaps, redundancies and inefficiencies, and thus can help regions reallocate resources to key challenge areas and avoid needless expenditures if high quality assets already exist. The initial asset map provides a region a baseline against which to measure progress over time.
3. Deepened Understanding of Key Regional Systems and Linkages: A comprehensive asset mapping process leads to a deeper understanding of the ways in which regional institutions interact with each other and with entities outside of the region. With a new perspective on well-established institutions, community leaders can more accurately assess the institutions’ current value to the economy. Leaders can also identify ways in which to strengthen institutions, build linkages between them, and, ultimately, improve the regional innovation system.
4. Catalyst for Partnership: Asset mapping aggregates the knowledge possessed by a few individuals and makes it available to others who may conceive of new ways to leverage the assets. A visual resource map, prepared as part of the mapping process, can help demonstrate to stakeholders that they work within a regional “community.” As leaders see common interests and organizational links, they may be inspired to strengthen or form partnerships.
5. Organizing and Motivational Tool for Implementation: The process of creating the asset map can have a positive effect in engaging community members in a regional development effort. The mapping team members can form a critical mass that becomes the cornerstone of future development activities. Engaging leaders in the analytical phase of an effort can motivate their participation in the implementation phase.
NEXT: Go to Levels of Asset Mapping