Satisfaction with status quo puts future of community at risk.

Strategically positioning your community for the future is never easy.  But regardless of how difficult it may be communities that fail to understand the importance of such efforts often come to realize their mistake far too late.  Even communities that seem to be doing just fine need to continually understand the changes occurring in, as well as to, their community. For example, many communities in Northwest Minnesota have some of the lowest unemployment rates in the state.  But at the same time a look at the demographic profile of these same communities suggests that the age, skills and educational levels of their current workforce may leave them ill-prepared to take advantage of emerging opportunities and fill the jobs of the future.  So are they really strategically positioned for success in a dynamic, global economy?

    Here in Crookston a group of about 50 local Stewards, from all segments of the community, (among them the authors of this article) have come together in an effort to understand the core values and assets of our community; the factors that will impact our future; emerging opportunities, and to create strategies to determine how we can best position ourselves to ensure our future success.  Known as “Crookston In Motion,” this effort began in 2011 facilitated by the Bemidji-based Center for Community Stewardship and supported by the Northwest Minnesota Foundation.  A parallel effort, the Crookston Area Community Fund (CACF) is working to create a financial endowment to help support the In Motion efforts, with help from the Otto Bremer Foundation and the Northwest Minnesota Foundation. And over the past year various committees conducted community surveys, held open listening sessions and continually met to work on an action plan.

    You may be aware of some of the In Motion efforts such as the launch of a “town square” meeting space in downtown Crookston.  Other efforts such as the establishment of a community/university collaboration to support local entrepreneurs and help ensure that more UMC students stay in the area after graduation are becoming more visible.  But regardless of its visibility, it’s important to recognize that residents from across the community are meeting and working together for Crookston’s future success.

    One point worth emphasizing is that one of the fundamental tenets of Crookston In Motion is the encouragement of new residents (and long timers as well) to be welcomed to join us and contribute their skills, energy and creativity. Your ideas, vision and energy are all important. The only requirement is that You Care about the future of your community and want to help provide a continual infusion of new energy and ideas that will help sustain the momentum and ensure that our efforts continue to move … and move forward.

    Currently four Destiny Driver groups are at work in the areas of Economic Development; Downtown Redevelopment; Housing; and Sustainability.  Each committee has defined their goals and has identified the drivers that will lead to their success.  Several committees have now begun to establish their strategies and timelines for implementation.  In other words, things are definitely in motion and you are welcome to join in pushing toward a brighter tomorrow.

    Simply put, local leaders who fail to try to position their community for future success put their community at risk.  To successfully position your community takes a sustained commitment by leaders and by community citizens alike.  The Crookston In Motion group is committed to the process and to their community; but they need your help.  To learn more about how you can contribute your ideas and energy, contact the Crookston Chamber of Commerce office.  
    Geller and Jorgens are Crookston InMotion stewards.