The recent COVID-19 pandemic has created unforeseen challenges in the effort of maintaining continuity and momentum due to the understandable disruption it has caused. Community leaders are working through the challenges of the pandemic to best serve their communities in real time, while also continuing to think on a regional basis.
When nine Minnesota jurisdictions just northwest of the Twin Cities banded together to create a regional economic development framework, they looked to Planning NEXT.
Collaborative, multi-jurisdiction efforts are complex in the best of circumstances, let alone in the face of a global pandemic The crisis has created unforeseen challenges that have threatened to disrupt the group’s momentum and progress. Rather allow the crisis to stop their work, leaders have leaned into the uncertainty, and in doing so, have inspired their communities to continue to create a preferred future.
Our firm has adapted to new working conditions and remained committed to helping the group stay connected. When the pandemic struck, we were beginning to roll out the first round of community engagement, causing us to quickly pivot and find non-traditional methods of bringing people together virtually, if not physically.
We are also conducting data assembly, data analytics, research, and mapping, to build out our understanding of the region. We can’t share this data in the usual fashion, so we’ve adapted to break out the data in a series of reports and create a virtual dialogue mechanism.
Speaking with a regional voice is more critical now than ever. As communities work through the issues of the pandemic, those who work together will be better suited to take advantage of stimulus aid and other financial assistance that might be available.
Though the pandemic has altered the framework project, it has also afforded us the opportunity to adapt to new conditions. The value of planning is more evident in times of uncertainty because it prepares us to change course as necessary to seek the best possible outcomes.
Keeping the band together, so to speak, will ultimately prove its value as we work through the problems of today to create the solutions of tomorrow.