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Scenario Planning Peer Workshop Report - State College, Pennsylvania

V. Conclusions

The workshop brought together a diverse set of participants with many different perspectives on regional futures. These perspectives allowed broad insights into the potential regional effects if a scenario were to come to pass. For example, a participant from the school district shared useful information during scenario discussions about how population growth might lead to the need for new schools in the region, although there is not a direct correlation. The need for new schools depends on the demographic of the increase in population (e.g., an increase in population that results from people of retirement age would not typically result in the need for more schools).

Through the discussion of the four scenarios and qualitative assessment of their driving factors, plausibility, and potential outcomes, participants identified several critical uncertainties that might affect the region and should be considered in future planning efforts. These factors included, but were not limited to, local economic health, level of public funding available for transportation infrastructure and municipal services, and fuel/energy prices.

Participants also focused on critical success factors that would be required to move forward with strategic planning in the region, including increasing coordination and collaboration across traditional jurisdictional boundaries and the public and private sectors, identifying new funding sources, and understanding community values to plan proactively for the continued high quality of life in the Centre Region.

Overall, the workshop was a productive learning experience and was successful in meeting its objectives. On evaluation forms distributed after the event, participants commented that the event increased an understanding of scenario planning approaches and that it was useful to be made aware of examples from other parts of the nation. Additional noted benefits included learning about the importance of public involvement in scenario planning and the adaptability of the technique to address different issues. Others mentioned that thinking through the plausible scenarios had made them more conscious of possible changes in historic trends and would help them to better address their agency's business needs. Many individuals planned to share knowledge of scenario planning with their colleagues after the workshop and consider how the technique could be used as part of ongoing planning activities.

Updated: 05/14/2014
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