After six years of serving on the Transportation and Community Development committees, Council Member Jon Commers realized that big-picture trends – whether national or even global in nature – were not always in the forefront of regional decision-making.
“Most of the work we, as Council Members, focus on is operating core regional infrastructure, as well as specific initiatives,” said Commers. “All business comes to the full Council, but often the meat of the work happens at the committee level. While it’s the right model to ensure efficiency and productivity, it doesn’t leave a lot of time to consider how trends unfolding in metro areas – including ours – may impact the functions assigned to us by the Legislature.”
To address this issue, Council Member Commers worked with then-Chair Adam Duininck and fellow Council Members to create a venue to discuss those big challenges.
The Regional Growth Strategy Work Group is intended to create an ongoing forum for Council Members to consider the impact of long-term trends, opportunities and challenges on regional systems. The group also monitors the ongoing implementation of Thrive MSP 2040 from an intentionally cross-divisional perspective. With a small group of members from across the standing committees and across the region’s Community Designations, the Work Group provides a forum for Council Members to structure and inform future Committee of the Whole meetings.
The work group has met twice so far. After an initial meeting to brainstorm future topics for conversation, the group discussed how various parts of the region are experiencing growth and change. Council Members were surprised to realize that many parts of the region, whether the Urban Center or the Emerging Suburban Edge, are experiencing similar tensions between long-time residents and new residents.
While the Work Group makes no decisions, these “a-ha moments” around differences and commonalities, whether across the region or the Council’s divisions, will lead to richer and better-informed Council conversations.