By Tom Fetters
Sometimes communities have to get creative to meet their needs for the future.
Take Norwood Young America, Minn., for example.
Officials in the city of fewer than 4,000 residents about 35 miles west of Minneapolis wanted to update the city offices and needed to add housing for senior citizens. They also needed to find a use for an abandoned Oak Grove Dairy plant that had been shuttered in 2004.
The solution, according to an article by the Minneapolis’ Finance and Commerce staff writer Brian Johnson, was a coordinated effort that included the city, county, regional council and state and transformed the former dairy site into the $12 million Oak Grove City Center, which opened in October.
The project combines a 10,000-square-foot library, a 7,500-square-foot city hall, 50 senior housing apartments and an office for the county sheriff department’s town deputy, according to Johnson’s account.
Oak Grove City Center is an unusual mix, but it meets the community’s needs going forward.
As Johnson quoted Norwood Young America’s economic development coordinator, Christie Rock, as saying, “The biggest reason this project succeeded is because elected officials took a risk in a tough economic environment and did something that would benefit a community over the long term.”
Tom Fetters is a copy editor at The Daily Reporter. He’s a fan of communities getting creative during this economy.