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Bemidji is the only Minnesota city to be named one of 32 cities for EPA program

Bemidji has been named one of 32 communities - the only Minnesota city - to be an initial participant in the Sustainable Communities Building Blocks program, administered by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Bemidji, and the other communities, will receive technical assistance to help them achieve sustainable planning goals.

Bemidji was one of 354 communities to apply for the program. The EPA selected 32 participating cities while consulting with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of transpiration.

City Manager John Chattin said Bemidji applied for the program after Councilor Rita Albrecht suggested that city staff look into the program.

There are no funds tied to the program.

Rather, Bemidji will take part in a daylong training session, probably this May or June, through which a consultant will discuss a specific sustainability tool.

There are eight possible tools. Bemidji will receive guidance on using "smart growth to produce fiscal and economic health." The EPA said this tool will focus on how to help communities get better economic results from development and investments.

According to the EPA, the Sustainable Communities Building Blocks program was created in response to communities that asked for tools and resources to help achieve development goals, improve residents' quality of life, and make their communities more economically and environmentally sustainable.

The program seeks to provide targeted technical assistance to help governments implement development approaches that protect the environment, improve public health, create jobs, expand economic opportunity and improve overall quality of life.

The program in each community will involve public engagement, consultation with decision-makers and specific steps to implement the ideas generated during the site visit.