Mayor's panel drafts recommendations on economic developmentA mayoral panel tasked with carving out a new game plan for economic development in Red Wing shifted gears this week, switching from listening to experts to drafting its own recommendations.
By: Jon Swedien, The Republican Eagle
A mayoral panel tasked with carving out a new game plan for economic development in Red Wing shifted gears this week, switching from listening to experts to drafting its own recommendations.
Over the past six months Mayor John Howe's group of 16 local business and civic leaders, dubbed a Blue Ribbon Panel, have met regularly to hear lectures from economic development experts from state agencies, academia and elsewhere. On Monday and Tuesday, with the help of a professional facilitator, the panel began drafting its work plan for development in Red Wing.
The panel's work is not finished. Its recommendation - which will be presented to City Council for possible adoption this summer - is in rough draft form.
Sitting around a large wooden table on the third floor of the Indigo Building in downtown Red Wing for seven hours over two nights, the panel hashed over numerous concerns about the state of local economic development and proposed what they believe the city could do better to foster development.
Panel members seemingly agreed Red Wing should take a more aggressive stance in wooing new companies to town and assisting local businesses.
"The point of this is to stimulate intentional action to get something done," said Scott Wordelman, panel chair and Fairview Red Wing Medical Center President and CEO.
But questions regarding how best to adopt that stance remain.
The panel is set to meet again June 8. Panel members also suggested holding a public forum in the coming weeks.
On Monday the panel voted unanimously to recommend the city keep its current economic development model -- which relies heavily on the Red Wing Port Authority to serve as the city's primary economic development driver.
The panel did, however, level criticism at the port.
Some panel members said the port lacked forward vision and is too reactionary. Others said the port must overcome its poor public image.
Port officials were present Monday and defended the agency's performance, pointing specifically to tax revenues and jobs borne out of the River Bluffs development along Tyler Road South.
Some panel members said Red Wing's economic development efforts are too splintered among different government agencies and business organizations.