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SWOT Analysis

SWOT Analysis


The SWOT is a strategic planning tool used by organizations to ensure that there is a clear objective informed by a comprehensive understanding of a region’s capabilities and capacity.  It should answer the question, “Where are we now?” by using the relevant data (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) and background information to help identify the critical internal and external factors that speak to the region’s unique assets and competitive positioning.

Identifying Competitive Advantages

A SWOT analysis identifies the region’s competitive advantages – those indigenous assets that make the region special or competitive in the national and global economies – juxtaposed against those internal or external factors that can keep a region from realizing its potential.

Determining and analyzing what the region already possesses that could be leveraged better to build the capacity for growth, is critical to developing the strategic direction and implementation plan to promote regional economic vitality. Such things include competitive cultural, economic, technological, intellectual, and physical assets. By leveraging these assets, you are using the activities and engagement of business, government leaders, and other stakeholders to maximize the economic potential of a region.

In addition, the SWOT analysis should consider economic resiliency. Specifically, what factors and/or elements are in place (or need to be put in place) to ensure the long-term success, viability, and durability of the regional economy?

Elements of a SWOT analysis

Strengths: A region’s relative competitive advantages (e.g., industry supply chains and clusters, extensive port, rail, and broadband assets, specialized workforce skills, higher education levels, collaboration among stakeholders), and often are internal in nature.

Weaknesses: A region’s relative competitive disadvantages (e.g., a risk-averse or change-resistant regional culture), and often are internal in nature.

Opportunities: Chances or occasions for regional improvement or progress (e.g., expansion of a biosciences research lab in the region), and often are external in nature.

Threats: Chances or occasions for negative impacts on the region or regional decline (e.g., several companies in the region considering moving to lower-cost areas of the state), and often are external in nature.