Last Week's Lunch Program: March 12, 2018
Charting a New Course:
Anoka County's Regional Business Recruitment Roadmap
Matt Brown, Margie Rask and Lori Higgins pose for a photo following the March 12th lunch program.
Anoka County is charting a new course for business recruitment and retention.  After years of watching economic development go elsewhere, business leaders from the area joined forces to plant a flag and take a new approach.  In 2016, Anoka County, Connexus Energy and the Metro North Chamber of Commerce partnered on a project to evaluate economic development county-wide.  In addition, Anoka County also partnered with the cities of Blaine, Coon Rapids, Ramsey and St. Francis on the project.  Last Monday, Lori Higgins President of the Metro North Chamber of Commerce and Matt Brown, Economic Development Coordinator for the City of Coon Rapids, spoke about the effort.
Lori Higgins speaks to Coon Rapids Rotary on March 12, 2018.
Among the goals was to evaluate strengths, weaknesses (including perceptions of the area), and opportunities for attracting and/or retaining desired businesses and industries.  The analysis involved a variety of stakeholders and was led by the Ady Advantage group, which does economic development consulting nationwide.  The plans over the next 3 years, is to develop a more robust marketing and branding campaign to help address the perception issues; focus on readiness by identifying available sites and talent sources; and lastly ensure that Anoka County remains connected to the region from an economic development, infrastructure investment and visibility standpoint.  Among the key industries are manufacturing, data centers and back office operations. 
A critical factor will be collaboration among the players.  A "win" for one city in Anoka County is really a win for all, since the impact will extend beyond the boundary of an individual community.  Thanks to Lori Higgins and Matt Brown for their presentation and to Matt Stemwedel for arranging the program.