The Cape Girardeau Area Magnet organization is continuing to work this fall on a new economic development strategic plan for Cape Girardeau County. Along with the consulting firm Ernst & Young LLP, the Magnet group recently finished the “competitive assessment” phase of the strategic planning process, which included invitations to more than 100 people representing a broad base of stakeholders to participate in one-on-one interviews and focus groups. The Magnet has also started an online survey anyone can complete and provide their opinions about the area’s current economic environment and where it’s heading in the foreseeable future. The 23-question survey can be found at surveymonkey.com/r/DFX8YWY. It will remain open until Sept. 24. Those who take the survey will be eligible to win one of 10 $25 gift cards. A recent Magnet news release stated the discussions with stakeholders to date, coupled with a review of Cape Girardeau County’s demographic and economic data from 2015-2020 have revealed some concerning trends, including: The growth of population has been modest and limited to retired or other nonworking age groups with the population of those in the 25 to 44 age range declining by almost six percent and the populations of several counties surrounding Cape Girardeau continuing to decline rapidly. The size of the area’s labor force has been reduced by about 4 percent in recent years, among others. The Magnet’s work with Ernst & Young started in June and is scheduled for completion in December. At that time, the Magnet board will focus on hiring a new leadership team to work with the board in the execution of the strategic plan. More information about Magnet and its current strategic planning process is available by contacting Guard at firstname.lastname@example.org or (573) 450-3396 or Janice Voss at email@example.com or (573) 334-5400.