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Dave Hengel, left, Headwaters Regional Development Commission director of community stewardship development, explains the activities of his Talent and Prosperity Team while Executive Director Cliff Tweedale listens during Thursday's HRDC Board of Directors annual meeting at the Hampton Inn & Suites. Pioneer Photo/Brad Swenson

HRDC looking to future

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The Headwaters Regional Development Commission needs to keep evolving to succeed, says Executive Director Cliff Tweedale.

"We can do more -- we can do better," Tweedale said Thursday to the HRDC Board of Directors at its annual meeting in Bemidji. "We need to ask ourselves, what is the next big thing?"

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Tweedale presented a strategy for the future, tempered with one thought: "It's not about strategy, it's about attitude. What is the right attitude for this organization?"

He challenged the board to hold the HRDC staff accountable.

The board held its annual meeting at the Hampton Inn & Suites, after taking a tour of the Bemidji Regional Event Center, where they found out from Bemidji City Councilor Ron Johnson that construction is $12.5 million under budget.

Flooring was being finalized in the mezzanines and work was progressing in the arena bowl, where seats are expected to be installed in a few weeks.

HRDC covers five counties -- Beltrami, Clearwater, Hubbard, Mahnomen and Lake of the Woods -- with planning and zoning aid, housing aid and transportation planning.

But Tweedale said the HRDC is evolving into something more than just providing regional cities with help in drafting zoning ordinances or doing transportation studies.

HRDC staff presented reports of a reorganization into "teams" to work with "talent and prosperity," "resources" and "livable communities." Then Tweedale tied them all together for a strategy for the future that leaves a legacy of success.

He presented seven challenges.

"We need to accept responsibility to take action to make sure we will be successful," he said of the first challenge.

"We need to work with a legacy in mind," he said of the second. "We want to know what people will say about us in 20 years and prepare a strategy that will transfer us there."

Tweedale said a third challenge is "to make time for the important stuff." Too often it's easy to bury oneself into the minutia of an organization and miss out on the big picture. "We need avoid the potholes and strategize."

A fourth challenge is to "make sure we 'get it' on a deeper level," which means listening to clients' needs and feedback, he said. "We must bring a certain humility, or we won't understand how to help customers. We don't need to think we know everything."

The fifth challenge, Tweedale said, is "let's make sure our entire region wins. If only a win in one place, and a loss in another place, we lose. It's vital as we can't get where we want as a region if one area comes out ahead of others."

In what Tweedale explained as two plus two equals five, the sixth challenge is to create synergy in the region by taking its differences and making something special out of it.

The final challenge is that "we have to make time to sharpen the saw - we need to energize, regroup, stop."

Tweedale plans to ask the board at several of its monthly meetings to do just that -- stop and strategize for the future.

"We (HRDC staff) need your help to bring accountability to this," Tweedale said.

HRDC is working in several teams on projects this year, which range from helping communities determine their destinies to increase opportunities for physical activity as part of healthy living practices.

"Talent is the key to economic development," said Dave Hengel, director of community stewardship development. He told of a Lake of the Woods County project, "Get Hooked for Life," whose goal is to return graduating talent to Lake of the Woods which may have left the region after high school or college.

Park Rapids has a program to team up mentors with middle school students to ensure success.

In Bemidji, a Students First Initiative is starting to improve student success by strengthening the connection of students with caring adults and to provide each student with a success plan.

Some of the goals for the Talent and Prosperity Team are within three years to have financed five "green" projects for businesses in the region, and within three years to complete projects that focus on "Growing and Attracting Talent," "Creating a Culture of Innovation" and helping entrepreneurs grow and develop new business, and defining common visions for the future.

There will be at least one project in each county, projects on two reservations and two region-wide.

Hengel's Community Stewardship Center will have ongoing relationships with leadership councils in each county seat and Blackduck within three years, and each will have a collective community action agenda.

"We really need to do a regional economic development strategy that regional leaders can buy into," Hengel said.

The Resources Team, led by Mary Thompson, accounting and administrative director, works internally to make sure staff has the tools and resources to do its job. HRDC offices were recently renovated to make them user-friendly.

The team hopes to contract externally to do the same, and will continue to develop systems that assist in bringing a higher level of accountability to the HRDC operation.

The Livable Communities Team weaves a number of disciplines together, says Tim Flathers, community development director.

The HRDC has made significant progress in active living programs, Flathers said, including a planning process in Bemidji that will lead to four years of implementing it. It includes road signage for trails, an active living website, use of social media and offering programs for physical activity such as the Passport for Fitness Program.

Goals for the year for the team, Flathers said, include:

E Within three years to have secured two contracts in active living and started active living initiatives in two others.

E Within three years to have completed nine "quality of place/livability" projects for customers, with every county having at least one, and two involving reservations.

E Close on the sale of at least 14 affordable single-family homes on an annual basis.

E Broaden HRDC's mix of development options well beyond single-family home new construction.

E Achieve full occupancy of a 20-unit supportive housing project in Bemidji.

E Develop a local funding source for loan financing.

No financials were prepared for the annual meeting, which will be submitted to the board in September. The HRDC had a 2010 budget of $1.18 million for the year ended June 30.

The HRDC receives most of its revenues from contracts for services with government agencies, but a small amount comes from property taxes.

The Headwaters Regional Development Commission needs to keep evolving to succeed, says Executive Director Cliff Tweedale.

"We can do more -- we can do better," Tweedale said Thursday to the HRDC Board of Directors at its annual meeting in Bemidji. "We need to ask ourselves, what is the next big thing?"

Tweedale presented a strategy for the future, tempered with one thought: "It's not about strategy, it's about attitude. What is the right attitude for this organization?"

He challenged the board to hold the HRDC staff accountable.

The board held its annual meeting at the Hampton Inn & Suites, after taking a tour of the Bemidji Regional Event Center, where they found out from Bemidji City Councilor Ron Johnson that construction is $12.5 million under budget.

Flooring was being finalized in the mezzanines and work was progressing in the arena bowl, where seats are expected to be installed in a few weeks.

HRDC covers five counties -- Beltrami, Clearwater, Hubbard, Mahnomen and Lake of the Woods -- with planning and zoning aid, housing aid and transportation planning.

But Tweedale said the HRDC is evolving into something more than just providing regional cities with help in drafting zoning ordinances or doing transportation studies.

HRDC staff presented reports of a reorganization into "teams" to work with "talent and prosperity," "resources" and "livable communities." Then Tweedale tied them all together for a strategy for the future that leaves a legacy of success.

He presented seven challenges.

"We need to accept responsibility to take action to make sure we will be successful," he said of the first challenge.

"We need to work with a legacy in mind," he said of the second. "We want to know what people will say about us in 20 years and prepare a strategy that will transfer us there."

Tweedale said a third challenge is "to make time for the important stuff." Too often it's easy to bury oneself into the minutia of an organization and miss out on the big picture. "We need avoid the potholes and strategize."

A fourth challenge is to "make sure we 'get it' on a deeper level," which means listening to clients' needs and feedback, he said. "We must bring a certain humility, or we won't understand how to help customers. We don't need to think we know everything."

The fifth challenge, Tweedale said, is "let's make sure our entire region wins. If only a win in one place, and a loss in another place, we lose. It's vital as we can't get where we want as a region if one area comes out ahead of others."

In what Tweedale explained as two plus two equals five, the sixth challenge is to create synergy in the region by taking its differences and making something special out of it.

The final challenge is that "we have to make time to sharpen the saw - we need to energize, regroup, stop."

Tweedale plans to ask the board at several of its monthly meetings to do just that -- stop and strategize for the future.

"We (HRDC staff) need your help to bring accountability to this," Tweedale said.

HRDC is working in several teams on projects this year, which range from helping communities determine their destinies to increase opportunities for physical activity as part of healthy living practices.

"Talent is the key to economic development," said Dave Hengel, director of community stewardship development. He told of a Lake of the Woods County project, "Get Hooked for Life," whose goal is to return graduating talent to Lake of the Woods which may have left the region after high school or college.

Park Rapids has a program to team up mentors with middle school students to ensure success.

In Bemidji, a Students First Initiative is starting to improve student success by strengthening the connection of students with caring adults and to provide each student with a success plan.

Some of the goals for the Talent and Prosperity Team are within three years to have financed five "green" projects for businesses in the region, and within three years to complete projects that focus on "Growing and Attracting Talent," "Creating a Culture of Innovation" and helping entrepreneurs grow and develop new business, and defining common visions for the future.

There will be at least one project in each county, projects on two reservations and two region-wide.

Hengel's Community Stewardship Center will have ongoing relationships with leadership councils in each county seat and Blackduck within three years, and each will have a collective community action agenda.

"We really need to do a regional economic development strategy that regional leaders can buy into," Hengel said.

The Resources Team, led by Mary Thompson, accounting and administrative director, works internally to make sure staff has the tools and resources to do its job. HRDC offices were recently renovated to make them user-friendly.

The team hopes to contract externally to do the same, and will continue to develop systems that assist in bringing a higher level of accountability to the HRDC operation.

The Livable Communities Team weaves a number of disciplines together, says Tim Flathers, community development director.

The HRDC has made significant progress in active living programs, Flathers said, including a planning process in Bemidji that will lead to four years of implementing it. It includes road signage for trails, an active living website, use of social media and offering programs for physical activity such as the Passport for Fitness Program.

Goals for the year for the team, Flathers said, include:

- Within three years to have secured two contracts in active living and started active living initiatives in two others.

- Within three years to have completed nine "quality of place/livability" projects for customers, with every county having at least one, and two involving reservations.

- Close on the sale of at least 14 affordable single-family homes on an annual basis.

- Broaden HRDC's mix of development options well beyond single-family home new construction.

- Achieve full occupancy of a 20-unit supportive housing project in Bemidji.

- Develop a local funding source for loan financing.

No financials were prepared for the annual meeting, which will be submitted to the board in September. The HRDC had a 2010 budget of $1.18 million for the year ended June 30.

The HRDC receives most of its revenues from contracts for services with government agencies, but a small amount comes from property taxes.

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