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Grow Farmington effort continues to take shape

Establishing priorities isn't always easy, but there's a group of concerned Farmington residents and business owners who are giving it a try all the same.

That group includes the folks who came out to last week's Grow Farmington session at city hall. Tasked with taking suggestions from a prior meeting and paring that list down to three specific priorities, those who attended did just what they set out to do.

A collaborative effort of city staff, council/economic development authority members, the Farmington Business Association and the Dakota County Regional Chamber of Commerce, as well as residents and other community stakeholders, the Grow Farmington group aims to develop a plan to promote the city and eventually attract new business.

Farmington city planner Lee Smick led the group's activity. Members were asked to pick their three top priorities. From those, Smick was able to flush out three strategies to grow the city: Promote Farmington, Brand Farmington, and Unite Farmington.

Promote Farmington

Ideas to promote Farmington included an effort to feature the unique elements of Farmington while creating events to attract visitors. The group talked about working with community education or the Dakota Sportsmens Club, or even forming a hiking club to use the community's trails.

In addition, they suggested creating a welcome wagon-type package for an upcoming Realtors conference that will be held in Farmington April 16. The thought, Smick said, was that if there was a packet that had information about Farmington's amenities, it could help Realtors send clients to the community.

Unite Farmington

With one cluster of businesses downtown, and another along Pilot Knob Road, the group sought to work with the entire business community to promote all of the city's business, regardless of where they are. The thought, Smick said, was that businesses on the north end would help to promote downtown, and downtown businesses would return the favor.

The group also talked about getting more people from different groups involved. For instance, a suggestion was made to talk to Farmington's senior citizens to encourage them to shop in both the downtown and the north Farmington businesses.

Brand Farmington

One of the things many people like about Farmington is the "hometown feel" of the community, Smick said. And while one group thought promoting that small-town atmosphere was a good idea, another group cautioned about not going "too rural or small, or too 'Mayberry,'" Smick said.

The thought behind branding Farmington was to come up with a new community slogan or logo, or even both, that could be used on all promotional materials. More than a decade ago, one of Farmington's groups came up with the slogan, "Farmington First!" to encourage residents to do their shopping in town. The new brand would be something similar, Smick said.

"It's something like that. They want to update the image," Smick said. "Everybody talks about marketing the small town, but we have to leave the door open for bigger things, too."

Next meeting

Implementing these strategies is going to take some time, and some planning, Smick said. That's why the Grow Farmington folks have planned another meeting for March 2.

At that meeting, Smick said, the group will take its three strategies and start building action plans to make those strategies realities.

"We're going to talk about how to get there. We'll also be assigning responsibility of who is going to do what, along with any potential cost of what that might be," she said. "We want some wins, along with getting some longer range planning things, too."

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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