Bulletin editorial: Renewed focus on growth, jobs welcomedEven Cottage Grove’s most vocal civic cheerleaders would acknowledge at least one major challenge facing the city right now: economic development and private-sector job growth seem sluggish at best.
Even Cottage Grove’s most vocal civic cheerleaders would acknowledge at least one major challenge facing the city right now: economic development and private-sector job growth seem sluggish at best.
While the city is far from facing a glut of empty storefronts and vacant office space, there are noticeable commercial building vacancies that the city has struggled to see filled amid a slow recovery from the economic recession. In addition, there are opportunities for well-planned commercial development that have not been seized.
Through perhaps little fault of its own – it could be argued broader economic conditions were a larger influence – Cottage Grove has struggled in recent years to land development projects that generate new jobs in the area.
Maybe the city is beginning to turn a corner, however. As the economy slowly rebounds Cottage Grove leaders recognized a more robust job-luring effort was needed, so the city shook up its Community Development Department. That department has under its purview economic development and job-growth efforts.
The change is most noticeable at the top: what previously was the position of community development director is now the economic development director.
With that change in title and focus came a change in personnel. Howard Blin, the former community development director, quietly resigned and the City Council moved swiftly last week to hire Danette Parr as economic development director.
The public would have benefited from a more open transition process, given the importance of economic development and the position being filled. Instead, Blin’s departure came after what was described only as a performance evaluation. It was not until after he left town did the City Council talk openly of the desire to change directions and bring in someone to more aggressively court developers and businesses. Council members interviewed candidates in separate closed-door sessions, which did not trigger open meeting requirements, and then unanimously picked Parr at last week’s regular meeting.
A quibble about the process is not meant to take anything away from Parr. Her selection is promising for the city. She is leaving the city of Prior Lake, where she has worked for seven years in community development, and has previous experience in other Twin Cities communities. She said she sees lots of opportunity for business growth in Cottage Grove.
We hope her fresh approach to marketing the city as a destination for businesses leads to a new phase of economic development expansion in Cottage Grove.