By Joshua Schuetz
As communities compete for workers, jobs and amenities, planning for the future has never been more important. Sometimes, small communities struggle to develop strategic and comprehensive plans due to a lack of staff capacity. CEDA is offering a suite of planning services, stepping up to the plate to give communities in rural Minnesota a shot at taking control of their own destinies.
Dylan Armstead, CEDA’s Director of Planning and head of the planning department, described the department’s services as filling in a gap in planning capacity in CEDA communities. Armstead took the position last year as part of a broader effort to streamline, strengthen and formalize CEDA’s planning services.Amstead works closely with CEDA’s Community Planning Specialist, Munira Alimire, to streamline, strengthen and formalize CEDA’s planning services.
“We deal a lot with comprehensive plans, strategic plans and housing studies,” Armstead explained. “Small cities may not have the staff capacity to update or create a comprehensive plan, and that’s where we can step in to help.”
Strategic planning, comprehensive planning and housing studies are the department’s bread and butter. Most cities have strategic or comprehensive plans, but some may not have the capacity to update or review them when needed.
Planning department services are typically contracted on a six month or eight month basis, and are separate from normal CEDA contracts, Armstead said.
Currently, six cities and two counties are receiving CEDA planning department services. Armstead said the services can take many forms. Armstead encouraged community leaders to reach out if they believe CEDA’s planning services would benefit their communities.
“Any city or community can reach out if they have questions or needs with comp planning strategic planning for housing studies,” Armstead said. “The more you think about the future, the better that future is when it becomes the present, and that’s what the planning department helps our communities do.”