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Farmington EDA puts strategic plan in place

Farmington city planner Lee Smick is optimistic about bringing new business to the community in the near future.

"Farmington is open for business," she said. "We're going to go out and market Farmington. If that's by one-on-ones with businesses or cold calling, going to seminars, coffee breaks, or whatever, we're going to have a team out there promoting Farmington."

At their Jan. 23 meeting, Economic Development Authority members approved a new strategic plan Smick says will be implemented in the coming months. The plan builds off of work done by the EDA and the city as far back as 2007, and incorporates pieces identified through last year's Grow Farmington initiative.

Now it's time to put all of the pieces together.

In its simplest form, the EDA strategic plan outlines an organizational plan, a marketing program, a section for retention and expansion portion to promote existing businesses, and a new business recruitment section.

Business Recruitment Team

Over the next few months, Smick plans to work with the EDA to develop a new group of business owners, city staff and probably a few others with a vested interest in attracting new business growth to the community, for a business recruitment team.

The idea of the business recruitment team is simple, Smick said. The group will be charged with the task to hopefully find answers to questions about why retailers consider or reject Farmington as a site for their businesses.

As part of that, Smick said, the team will look at Farmington's housing. Past feedback from larger retailers has been that the community doesn't have enough housing to be considered as a site for expansion. The business recruitment team will also look at the community's housing options -- more specifically, apartment and townhome offerings - to see if there is room for growth in that area. Smick suspects there is.

"We'll also ask them what types of homes do they want? Apartments? Townhomes? We have a decent amount of townhomes, but I think we'll find one of the biggest weaknesses is the apartments," she said.

Smick figures the EDA will start some of the strategic plan work as early as its next meeting Feb. 27. In the coming weeks, staff will take specific steps from the strategic plan and incorporate the information into a spreadsheet for EDA members. At the same time, Smick expects the EDA to set up the team, or at least define what the team's membership and priorities should be.

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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