Development review leads to new opportunities for Minot region

Posted: Apr 06 2018
The International Economic Development Council (IEDC) returned to Minot for one last site visit before providing its final report to help Minot leadership build a resilient economy and enhance social connectivity. With joint collaboration, the Minot Area Development Corporation, Minot Area Chamber of Commerce, and City of Minot cohosted IEDC’s team on March 12-15, 2018.
IEDC is the world’s largest and oldest organization for economic development with 5,000+ members and a network of over 30,000. IEDC has improved the quality of life for numerous communities across the U.S. and Minot welcomed four different industry experts during their site visit. As part of the National Disaster Resiliency (NDR) award, the City of Minot has been able to utilize this opportunity to hire IEDC. IEDC’s process included a site visit and prep in fall of 2017, extensive background report, and another site visit in March 2018, before finalizing their report with recommendations and case research (still pending).
During the course of 4 days in Minot, IEDC met with several organizations to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Based on those meetings, their observations, and feedback, IEDC leadership developed a list of priority needs and opportunities for the city of Minot. IEDC’s team recommended specific strategies to spur Minot’s economic resilience and explored how those strategies can be expanded to foster economic recovery for other areas in the city.

IEDC first met with the Minot Area Development Corporation’s Executive Committee and staff, City of Minot staff, Ward County staff, the Downtown Business and Professional Association, and the Minot Area Chamber of Commerce. On the second and third day, IEDC experts held additional meetings with:
As a result of meeting with all these different organizations, IEDC was able to identify Minot’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Minot’s strengths include: a vibrant downtown, population that’s getting younger (which is very special), economic drivers exist (regardless if there’s a bust or boom at least Minot has drivers), riverfront, new form of city council, availability of housing and hotel rooms, and existing infrastructure for startups and redevelopment. They identified the following weaknesses: segmentation (organizations are divided and not working together), no collective vision, financial projections in local government, limited/no communication among stakeholders, saying no instead of figuring out how to make it work, downtown is open for the unemployed, and urban sprawl. IEDC found many opportunities for Minot stakeholders, such as the M Building & Trinity buildings, incubators (kitchen and technology), the Governor’s Main Street Initiative, consolidation of stakeholder missions, utilization of TIF, PILOT & BID incentives, Center for Technology of Education, relocating city hall, county and city collaboration, growing special and regional events, create a five year city and county capital plan, fill in the gaps within the city (instead of growing the outskirts of the city – improve the areas within), BNSF’s Site Certified property, and the potential for a gathering space and riverfront connection. Lastly, IEDC experts found the following threats for Minot: accepting status quo (doing nothing), bickering amongst other organizations, lack of city involvement, land rich/cash poor, nobody is responsible for downtown, lack of oversight and accountability, no plan for Trinity buildings, and too much focus on the past. Amongst all this information IEDC covered, they went further in depth on the top priorities for change.

As the community gathered to hear IEDC’s recommendations, Minot leadership grasped how this will be a long, slow process, but that change is necessary to help Minot’s community improve. Here are the following recommendations from IEDC:
  • One umbrella organization (shared staff) with multiple organization structures to implement the following programs: Redevelopment, business attraction, industrial development, MAGIC Fund, entrepreneurship coordination, downtown/BID, placemaking, tourism, business retention and expansion, business support programs, research coordination, workforce development, marketing/communication/messaging. IEDC leadership discussed the advantages of combining the City and County, as well as the CVB, Chamber, and MADC.
  • Drive foot traffic downtown. Increased traffic can be a result from establishing incubators, coordinating hours of operation in downtown, private skill training institutes, relocating City Hall, combining City and County library to be downtown with a coffee shop, building a new middle or high school, offering a riverfest, kayaking or ice skating on the river, daycare, grocery store, etc.
  • There needs to be a one stop shop that is the toolbox of incentives and financing programs for local, state, federal, and private.
  • Citywide visioning and strategic planning session.
  • Sales tax needs to stop subsidizing property tax.
  • Cross promotional marketing.
  • Visiting site consultants.
  • Identify peer cities outside of North Dakota.
  • Local marketing campaign.
  • Monthly coordination meetings.
  • Combine Parks District and Recreation Department.
  • Combine City and County libraries.
  • Take the Trinity buildings.
  • Offer incentives for updating the M Building.
  • Control the design of downtown.
  • Keep board of directors to a manageable size (7-9 people). Create sub-committees that report up to the board of directors.

IEDC experts reviewed these recommendations in depth with Minot’s leadership on their last day of their site visit. The next step for this analysis includes a written report, case study research, then the IEDC expert panel will review the draft report. Once the draft report is reviewed it will be sent to the City of Minot, the City will forward the report to Minot’s key stakeholders for feedback. Once the report is finalized by IEDC, it will be dispersed. Minot leadership looks forward to reviewing the final report and hopes an actionable plan will be implemented as soon as possible. IEDC experts ensured Minot that cases like this can take years, but Minot is hopeful that change will be welcomed.