Using an innovative teaching method to help a city resolve its dilemma’s
This article focuses on an interdisciplinary partnership between
two institutions of higher learning that used an innovative
teaching method to help a city resolve this dilemma. Students from
Minnesota State University’s Urban and Regional Studies Institute,
located in Mankato, Minnesota, and students from South Central
College, located in North Mankato, worked with and actively engaged
the small city of Janesville, Minnesota (population 2,193), in
developing the first component of a strategic place-marketing plan.
Respond to the challenge of intensifying place competition
This type of plan is a proactive way for communities to respond
to the challenge of intensifying place competition. It can be a
guiding force in helping to develop a community’s future by
maximizing the efficient social and economic functioning of a place
in accordance with the broader goals. As sellers of products,
places can use this planning method to better understand who they
are and what they can be. This kind of initiative also represents
academia at its best: resource use is maximized while both student
and public interests are served simultaneously.
Selling a place is not like selling a product
It is one thing to come up with an ad campaign for cars or
cereal and quite another to come up with a marketing campaign for a
place. A commonality, however, is that communities, like products,
must show their excellence to compete. For example, the
infrastructure, industries, attractions, and workforce skills that
are built today will affect tomorrow’s market position.
Strategic market planning
To do this, communities must develop and carry out what can be
viewed as a planning methodology. Rather than turning to planning
in hard times, places must adopt planning to avoid them. Even small
places can find their own market niche where they can claim
superiority over other places through an approach known as
strategic market planning (SMP). SMP can be broken down into four
An important aspect of SMP is that it is proactive, not reactive. This methodology, therefore, is a powerful tool for communities to use in responding to the challenge of intensifying place competition. It can also help to develop a community’s future by making the most of the efficient social and economic functioning of a place in accordance with the wider goals established—the community’s master plan. As sellers of products, places can use this planning method to better understand how to identify future opportunities and threats.
Opportunities and Threats
According to the strategic marketing theorem, strengths and
weaknesses are internal, while opportunities and threats are
external. An opportunity is when a place has a good chance to
achieve a competitive edge, followed by a plan of action. Threats
are categorized as major, moderate, or minor. A major threat has
both a high probability of happening and impacting a place
negatively. A moderate threat has either a high probability of
happening or having a negative impact, but not both. A minor threat
has low probability of happening and would have little effect on
A case study was done in Janesville, Minnesota. You can read all about how SMP was used in Janesville as well as the rest of this article titled ‘Making Cities Livalble Through Place Marketing’ on the ICMA website.
Conclusion: Cities do not become livable and remain viable by resting on past accomplishments
The key to building sustainable, livable cities is to educate
and nurture steward and stakeholder partnerships within and between
educational institutions and the place in which they coexist.
Learning and investment can and should extend far beyond the classroom and into the community where we spend our lives. In this way, we not only make our communities livable, we invest ourselves in the philosophy that we deserve livable communities and owe ourselves the commitment to participate in the process of ensuring that our cities grow and prosper in every way.