Community Growth Options
Community Growth Options (CGO) is a multi-year project conducted by Envision Minnesota (under its former name, 1000 Friends of Minnesota), between 2008 and 2011.
The project was funded by the McKnight Foundation and designed to deliver to small, growing communities financial and other assistance for community planning, ordinance development and implementation.
CGO was initiated in a time of rapid growth on the periphery of the Twin Cities region. Many small communities had a vision of maintaining their community character, open spaces, and rural lifestyle, while also enjoying the economic development that growth could bring. Being concerned for the future of these unique places, CGO sought to build capacity for ongoing planning and implementation in ten growing communities over a three-year period.
The following communities participated in the project (Click on any community for more information):
- Becker Township
- Center City
- Livonia Township
- Norwood Young America
- Pine Island
Community Growth Options developed the following goals and guidelines to direct its process over the course of the project. Our advisory board was instrumental in guiding our vision, implementing our process and helping us meet our goals.
The goals of CGO were:
- To assist local elected officials, staff and citizens to guide the development patterns in their communities
- To support Minnesota communities in accommodating development
- To create models of successful planning and implementation
- To encourage planning firms to provide to small communities a comprehensive array of integrated services
- To create and sustain in communities a demand for long-term planning, sustainable local policies and a balanced-growth approach to community development
The participating communities were given access to a comprehensive array of policy, communications, educational, technology and University resources at no additional cost to support and enhance their planning and implementation efforts. These resources included:
- A variety of communications options, such as newsletters and CGO program-wide newsletters that highlighted progress in all selected communities and a website presence.
- Regular training opportunities, including workshops for local elected officials, staff and citizens on various planning and natural resource topics relevant to the community.
- University of Minnesota resources, including 10-week graduate student internships and faculty research support, which included GIS support, market research, community surveys and data-gathering.
- Technical assistance to support, inform the community planning process. We provided 3D visualization, interactive mapping and GIS analysis.
Participating communities were expected to:
- Contract with a planning firm from an approved pool of consultants.
- Work with that firm to establish a cyclical planning framework for their community that includes the following components: community visioning, comprehensive planning, ordinance development/updating, plan implementation/developing action items, policies and procedures audit, ongoing internal education and training.
- With assistance from the selected planning firm, implement this planning framework.
- Commit to funding ongoing planning as a core function of government.
- Commit to seeking diverse and broad citizen representation in the planning process.
- Commit to openness and a high level of information-sharing in the planning process.
- Participate in CGO workshops and trainings as appropriate.
CGO Advisory Board
Jim Solem, Chair