A forum on the Economic Development Future of the Brainerd Lakes Area will be hosted at the Rosenmeier Center for State and Local Government at Central Lakes College (CLC) from 7-9:30 p.m., Sept. 5,, in the Chalberg Theatre on the Brainerd campus.
With the country still on shaky economic footing in the wake of the Great Recession and the city of Brainerd in its sixth year of double-digit unemployment, this panel will examine how the Brainerd lakes area can and should grow in the next 25 years to become and remain economically vital in an increasingly competitive and global economy.
Panel participants will be: Cheryal Lee Hills, executive director of Region Five Development Corporation (R5DC.); Sheila Haverkamp, executive director of the Brainerd Lakes Area Economic Development Corporation (BLAEDC); Lisa Paxton, executive director of the Brainerd Lakes Chamber of Commerce; Charles Marohn, executive director of Strong Towns; and Mark Ostgarden, Brainerd city planner.
Hills brings to the panel more than 25 years of private/public and nonprofit experience. She provides oversight of more than $3 million in project, levy and grant annual income and delivers program development, program implementation, organizational planning, financial planning/oversight and manages all contractual agreements for R5DC.
The R5DC program areas include economic development, transportation, community development, energy, and local foods. R5DC serves the region through technical assistance loan administration of five separate lending programs.
Hills has received numerous service group awards and serves on at least seven state and regional boards of directors. In her various leadership positions, she has secured public, private and non-profit funding to support community and regional development projects.
Haverkamp is a certified economic development specialist and is recognized by local, regional, and state leaders for her knowledge in community and economic development. She has a bachelor of science degree in business administration with concentrations in finance, management and marketing from Minnesota State University, Moorhead.
She has played a key role in economic development projects in the Brainerd lakes area for nearly 25 years, facilitating and leading the economic development vision for the Brainerd lakes area, including Wausau Paper’s $27 million investment in its Brainerd paper mill, Lexington Manufacturing’s decision to locate its new fire-rated commercial door plant in Brainerd instead of the metropolitan area, and Artspace’s $10 million investment for renovating Franklin Junior High School into unique space for artists.
Paxton has served as the chief executive officer of the Brainerd Lakes Chamber since 1995, the seventh largest chamber in Minnesota with more than 1,000 members and operating from four offices in the region. Paxton is active in public policy initiatives, serving as chair of the Explore Minnesota Tourism Council and public policy committee, and supporting the chamber’s VoteBrainerdLakes.com website featuring video interviews.
Marohn is a professional engineer licensed in Minnesota and a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP). He has a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Minnesota’s Institute of Technology and a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute.
Strong Towns is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization focused on educating people about the way towns and neighborhoods are designed. Strong Town’s approach advocates for obtaining a higher return on existing infrastructure investments, as opposed to placing emphasis on investments in new infrastructure to serve or induce new development.
Ostgarden was born and raised in Thief River Falls and received his bachelor of science degree in urban and regional studies from Mankato State University in 1980 and his master’s degree in public administration from Central Michigan University in 1999.
He began his work in local government in 1980 when he was hired for a planning position in Northfield. In 1987, he was hired as the city planner in Midland, Mich., where he worked for 17 years before returning home to Minnesota in 2005 when he was hired as Brainerd city planner.
The planning department is responsible for ensuring healthy and consistent growth throughout the community and developing long range goals for the development of the city. It enforces the local zoning ordinance and reviews zoning variances and conditional use permits for consideration by the Planning Commission.
“It is an honor to participate in the Rosenmeier Center forum on economic development,” said Hills, in a news release. “Being responsive to tomorrows regional economic drivers will take more than trendy buzz words; it will take private/public and nonprofit/philanthropic commitment and action.
“If we can learn from historical success/failures and institute practices and systems that balance our economic vitality with environmental stewardship,” she said. “We stand to be competitive. The previous ‘stand-alone silo thinking’ and evaluating success by a fictitious number of jobs created is ineffective and unproductive. Our region has created thousands of ideas — it’s time for collective action.”
Moderating the panel will be Taylor Stevenson, vice president of the Rosenmeier Center Board of Directors. Steve Wenzel, executive director of the Rosenmeier Center, will introduce the panel. Opening remarks will be delivered by Larry Lundblad, CLC president.
“The Rosenmeier Center is thrilled to have such a brilliant panel to discuss our area economic future,” said Wenzel. “Each of our panelists is a local person who brings statewide or national renown to this important discussion. The panel will examine the future of our economic sustainability, giving insight on what is being done and what still be done to ensure our long-term economic vitality.”
The Rosenmeier Center was named in honor of the late Senate Gordon Rosenmeier of
Little Falls who was regarded by Minnesota legislative colleagues and historians as the most knowledgeable, influential, and powerful legislator in all of Minnesota history. The purpose of the center is to “educate and inform” the citizenry on issues of importance at the state and local level.
The center is a non-partisan organization which strives to educate and encourage participation of citizens in effective government and the political process.
A champion of citizen participation in grassroots government, Gordon Rosenmeier was a Little Falls attorney who served eight consecutive terms in the Minnesota Senate. He became one of the most powerful, influential, and respected legislators in Minnesota history. Among the bills he authorized was the creation of Brainerd Community College.