‘Vision’ drafted; buy-in to Blue Ribbon Panel’s recommendation is nextMembers of Mayor John Howe’s panel on economic development believe they’ve laid out a road map that will lead Red Wing to economic prosperity.
By: Jon Swedien, The Republican Eagle
Members of Mayor John Howe’s panel on economic development believe they’ve laid out a road map that will lead Red Wing to economic prosperity.
During its final workshop Tuesday, the panel articulated its “vision,” declaring: “Red Wing will lead greater Minnesota in the retention and development of high-technology, entrepreneurial and small businesses by 2015.”
Howe said he’s pleased with the group’s work, but added they’re not done yet.
“To be finished, they need to influence public policy,” Howe said, adding the panel needs to get the Red Wing Port Authority Board and City Council to buy-in.
The panel’s recommendations will be detailed in a report presented to City Council June 28. The council will be asked to adopt it.
Howe brought the 15 local business owners and civic-minded residents together to form a new plan for economic development.
The panel has been meeting over six months, logging hours in meetings that included lectures and workshops. Meanwhile, the city budgeted $7,500 for a professional facilitator to help lead summary discussions and to pay for other expenses.
In addition to articulating a mission statement, the panel concluded Tuesday that city officials should revisit Red Wing’s economic strategic plan — which was last updated 10 years ago — and create a stronger marketing plan to brand the community in a positive way.
Also, the city’s public and private economic development organs are splintered, the panel said, adding they should work better together.
The group says the city would be wise to create benchmarks to track progress.
For much of Tuesday’s meeting the panel struggled to come up with a sentence that properly articulates the vision. Panel members spent the better part of an hour haggling over semantics and sentence structure.
While numerous rhetorical concerns were raised, the primary divide seemed to be over how specific the statement should be. Some felt preferred keeping the wording general, given the panel didn’t want to exclude any potential opportunities.
“I think being vague is better because we may not know what opportunities are out there,” Dan Massett said.
Others, however, felt being vague would not accomplish what the panel set out to do, which they said was to give the city a clear idea of what businesses the city should try to attract.
“This was intended to aim — not be a broad shot — but like a rifle,” co-chairman Scott Wordelman said. He later added, “If the vision isn’t a little controversial then we missed the mark. Where is the niche? Where is the aim?”
Late during Tuesday’s meeting, panel member Gary Iocco made his own proposal regarding how Red Wing could spur development, specifically for downtown Red Wing. Iocco arrived at the meeting late because of another commitment.
He proposed redirecting $50,000 from other city agencies and possibly Goodhue County to the Red Wing Downtown Main Street organization. Iocco was formerly president of the organization.
He said Downtown Mainstreet could then focus on economic development in the downtown, which he said the current Port Authority staff has ignored. He argued his proposal was a specific plan of action the panel and city officials could take on.
“This is something we can actually follow up on,” Iocco said.
While some panel members expressed interest in the proposal, it was set aside and not acted upon Tuesday.