Case Study: City of Port Washington Strategic Planning

Challenge: The city of Port Washington, Wisconsin had undergone a series of transitions in recent years following the election of a new mayor and the retirement of a longtime city administrator. As the fastest-growing community in Ozaukee County, it also faced new development pressures, and city leadership saw a need for a longer-term plan to guide efforts. The City also sought to examine its current structure, provide support for staff as it implemented stronger internal systems, and build in tools for long-term accountability and execution of the plan. 

Role: Facilitated a strategic planning process that included extensive community research, a stakeholder survey, and a stakeholder engagement session. Northspan also completed one-on-one interviews with the mayor, alders, city administrator, and all city department heads. In January and February 2022, Northspan facilitated workshops to determine the practical vision, underlying contradictions, and an updated vision and mission for the community. The process culminated in the creation of four new strategic directions: 

  1. Pursuing stakeholder alignment through communication 
  2. Creating accountability through policies and procedures 
  3. Ranking priorities to identify funding sources 
  4. Catalyzing development to generate revenue 

City staff proceeded to build out a timeline for the action steps identified to advance each strategic direction. Northspan provided change management coaching, including quarterly check-ins with staff on their action planning, and also developed recommendations for a more streamlined organizational structure. 

Results: Port Washington’s 2022-2026 strategic plan included new mission and vision statements for the city. The plan was adopted by the common council in March 2022, and community members expressed enthusiasm for the process and new direction for the city. Quarterly check-ins with city staff are ongoing. 

You can view the full strategic plan along with background details on the strategic planning process here: City of Port Washington Strategic Plan

Reference: Tony Brown, City Administrator, City of Port Washington,, 262-284-5585