Commentary: Blue Ribbon Panel advances in its missionThe Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Economic Development has been meeting for several months
By: Dennis Egan and Scott Wordelman, Red Wing, The Republican Eagle
Dennis Egan and Scott Wordelman
The Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Economic Development has been meeting for several months and, given the nature of the panel’s work, we felt it important to provide an update.
We know of the public’s interest in this important topic and are committed for our work to be both transparent and non-political.
The panel is made up of 15 volunteers from a variety of backgrounds. Collectively we represent labor, business, manufacturing, health care, education, downtown, arts and real estate.
We have been focusing much of our time up to now educating ourselves on the multiple issues which impact the community’s economic health.
To guide our work, Red Wing Mayor John Howe gave the Blue Ribbon Panel the following charge:
1. Complete an assessment of Red Wing’s performance in Economic Development.
a. What has Red Wing done very well?
b. Where have there been setbacks/disappointments?
2. What strategies should Red Wing employ to position our city for the future?
a. Given today’s/future economic conditions?
b. What structure will give Red Wing the best opportunity for success?
3. How does the city effectively communicate these outcomes with the community?
The panel established a set of guiding principles to organize our approach. Each provides a different but important perspective to address the mayor’s charge.
• Focus on retention and sustainability of current businesses
• Quality of life to support healthy community
• Sustain and create living wage jobs
• Maintain and expand the tax base
• Create additional income for the community
Our educational phase has brought multiple perspectives and ideas. We have explored economic development from the Red Wing perspective, as well as from an outside perspective.
To date we have engaged the following speakers and topics
• Myron White, Red Wing Port Authority
• Randal Hemmerlin, Red Wing HRA
• Bill Balzer, Minnesota Chamber of Commerce
• Laura Blair, city of Red Wing (topic of fiber optics)
• Brian Peterson, city of Red Wing (comprehensive plan and downtown action plan)
• Gene Goodard, Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development
• Ann Markusen, professor of Economics at University of Minnesota Humphrey Institute
• John Edman, executive director of Explore Minnesota
• Tom Brown, president Red Wing Port Authority Board
• Shannon Harris, Downtown Main Street
• Patty Brown, president Red Wing Chamber of Commerce
• Kathy Silverton, director Red Wing Visitors & Convention Bureau
We are not finished in gaining a comprehensive understanding of this complex issue and will continue our learning phase through mid-May, exploring the following areas:
• Clarity of the Port Authority role and model
• Other successful community models
• Understanding the tax base
• Demographics and work force
• Developer perspectives on Red Wing’s business environment
With the city of Red Wing’s assistance, we have engaged David Unmach from Springsted Inc. to provide the facilitation to bring our education together to meet the charge.
We anticipate advancing to the recommendation phase in a series of meetings in late May and early June, with a goal to provide our final recommendations to the mayor and City Council by the end of June.
Our meetings are open and the public is invited to attend. Our meeting information is available on the city of Red Wing Web site.
Dennis Egan and Scott Wordelman are co-chairs of the Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Economic Development.