By Joshua Schuetz
Small communities thrive on relationships-the close ties between people, often built over generations, that help move projects forward. Unfortunately, those relationships can be a snare when disagreements arise and a neutral third party is needed to help business owners, community members and municipal leaders find a path forward.
CEDA stepped up to the plate to address that challenge through its offering of civil mediation services. Regional Director Bryan Stading, who has provided civil mediation services to communities throughout Minnesota since 2008, now provides those services under the CEDA umbrella. Stading previously worked for The Regional Center for Entrepreneurial Facilitation before he joined the CEDA team.
Stading said civil mediation is a process whereby the mediator works with parties involved in a particular issue to set ground rules for discussion, identify opportunities for compromise and, crucially, give everyone at the table an equal voice in the discussion. While mediation services are typically sought due to conflict between parties, Stading said mediators assist with issues like succession planning, which is a major area of concern for small communities in Minnesota and elsewhere.
“Often, lenders, business partners and communities will seek it out when they feel there are financial risks involved,” Stading said. “In essence, the right time to bring in someone like me is when there’s a difference of opinion, because what we try to do is give everyone at the table a voice.”
Rural communities sometimes need mediators to assist with situations where different people or entities have differing or conflicting opinions on what their next steps should be. By offering civil mediation services, CEDA is continuing to help small communities access services that are difficult to source locally and promote economic development in rural Minnesota.
CEDA’s civil mediation services can be provided on a project or retainer basis, as well as within a package of other CEDA services. Clients may include banks, initiative foundations, business partnerships, community organizations and businesses looking at succession planning, among others.