Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Community Priorities

On February 25, I attended a meeting where community members ranked priority goals for the St. Cloud area. The way in which the ranking processd was handled was impressive and intriguing. The method used definitely requires the acknowledgement that the outcomes correlate to attendance of those present. For instance, if only one sector of the community were present, it would certainly skew the results.

Fortunately, 200 people attended the event representing a cross-section of for-profit, nonprofit, education, arts, and residents from the area. Attendees “voted” on items from a list of priorities that were already condensed to 30 (from 200 priorities originally). With the guiding principle of “positive regional impact,” the group ended up with 11 top priorities (two tied for 10th).

The 11 community priorities set, in no particular order, include the following:

• Develop youth corps to support service projects and community activities
• Develop a community center
• Launch the new economic development organization
• Simplify, standardize and streamline regulations across the region for new and growing businesses
• Develop partnership between education and businesses to keep college graduates in the area
• Connect and enhance downtown, river and neighborhoods with placemaking and
 public art projects
• Create a mentor program for newly arrived immigrants and refugees
• Reinstate regional air service
• Promote the Big Lake connection to Northstar Rail
• Leverage and expand the Summer Time by George
• Create a riverfront corporation

It was a fascinating process utilizing the expertise of Amherst H. Wilder Foundation research resources. If you are interested in learning more or would like to be involved in any of the initiatives, please contact the Initiative Foundation at 320-632-9255 or the Central Minnesota Community Foundation at 320-253-4380.

Posted by Kathy Grochow, NRS, St. Cloud

Don Hickman, Initiative Foundation, announcing the results from votes related to the "Aging and Youth" category.

Dr. Earl Potter, St. Cloud State University, talking about one of the categories from which to vote.

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