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Developer thrives on diverse challenges

April 21, 2008
By JILL SCHRAMM, Staff Writer
STANLEY – Working in community development teaches a person a little bit about everything, says Cori Lindsay.

As community development director in Stanley for the past three years, Lindsay has needed to know something about home construction, wind energy, tourism, economic development and more.  With so many varied issues facing her, the most important thing there is to know is where to find the experts, she said.

“My focus is pretty much anything that has to do with bettering the community. I work on a lot of community problem-solving issues,” she said. “It’s a great job. I really like the diversification of it. You are never doing the same thing twice.”

An increase in oil development in the Stanley area hasn’t added to the challenges as much as it has heightened the urgency.

“I think the challenges are the same because we weren’t a community that was necessarily losing a whole lot of population. We were seeing new people move into the community before the oil-field activity. It was just a trickle, and now it’s a flood, it seems like,” Lindsay said.

Even before the oil boom hit, Stanley was working to develop more housing in town.

The community’s Housing Authority erected its first four-plex last summer. A second four-plex will be ready for occupancy in May.

Jim Wilhelmi, chairman of the Housing Authority, said Lindsay did an excellent job in handling the details of all that needed to be done with those projects.

“It was great to have somebody in that position. She was there all the time and coordinating a lot of the paperwork,” he said. “”We couldn’t have gotten it done without her. She was really good. She was on top of everything.”

The four-plexes haven’t solved the housing crunch, but the city now is looking to private developers to finish what needs to be done. It appears that private housing development will be occurring, Lindsay said.

The oil activity also has meant more focus on expanding water and sewer services and roads in the city. It’s led the city to add a third police officer. It’s made the day-care shortage more pressing.

Lindsay said the city has encouraged the establishment of private day-care homes and is looking to establish a day-care center in the school.

Stanley Mayor Mike Hynek said Lindsay plays a key role in the activities going on in Stanley.

“There’s so many things that she helps with,” he said.

Among the current projects that have her attention is the creation of Northwest Link, northwest North Dakota’s rural connection to an organization called Young Professionals. Another project is a feasibility study to develop a former hospital building into an office complex.

She is helping with the fourth annual Bike the Border Bicycle Tour that will be coming through Stanley this summer. She’s involved with a group developing regional tourism promotion and with Stanley’s participation in the Horizons Program.

Horizons is a community development program through the North Dakota State University Extension Service. Stanley’s efforts through the program include Northwest Link and creating a countywide foundation to support long-term projects.

Lindsay is a resource for community groups that need assistance with projects, such as the Chamber of Commerce’s beautification of the Amtrak station in Stanley. She also has been involved in the creation of the North Prairie Farmers Market and research into wind energy.

Lindsay serves on boards for the Mountrail County Job Development Authority, the N.D. Center for Technology and Business and N.D. Commission on the Status of Women. She is chairwoman for Northwest Venture Communities board. She was among woman honored at the Minot YWCA Woman of Distinction event this month.

A native of Mandan, Lindsay discovered her interest in development issues while interning at the Women’s Business Center in Fargo as a student at Moorhead State University, now Minnesota State University-Moorhead.

After graduating with an economics degree, she became economic development director in Washburn. While there, she was involved in a regional project that included Stanley. When Stanley decided to use a portion of its city sales tax to create a community development position three years ago, the city approached Lindsay, then employed with the foundation at Bismarck State College.

Based on visits to Stanley and the people she met, she felt comfortable making the move. She’s since immersed herself in the small town, taking up golfing and bowling.

Also while involved in the earlier regional project, she traveled to Nebraska for a conference and met Athan Lindsay of North Carolina. The two were married last summer and Athan re-located to Stanley. Cori Lindsay said her husband’s work with the National Rural Funds Collaborative involves a lot of travel but allows him to live wherever he chooses.

Lindsay enjoys traveling at times with her husband. But even in her leisure travel, she admits one of her primary tourist interests is investigating what other places are doing with their housing projects, farmers markets and other community issues.

Hynek said it would be difficult to accomplish the things Stanley wants to see done without a developer.

“I think she’s done quite well,” he said of Lindsay. “It’s been difficult because she didn’t have a clear-cut job description, and we have kind of found our way in the last few years.”

Lindsay said there’s nothing that prepares someone for a job in the development field.

“Most developers, when they first start out, don’t have a clue what they are getting into,” she said. “It’s really on-the-job training.”

Because of that, Lindsay offers to share the knowledge she’s gained with new development directors who come into the region. Despite the job’s learning curve, she feels she made the right choice when she came to Stanley.

“It was a good decision,” she said. “It’s about opportunity. For me, personally, it was an opportunity to do something that I enjoyed, that I care about.”

(Prairie Profile is a weekly feature profiling interesting people in our region. We welcome suggestions from our readers. Call Regional Editor Eloise Ogden at 857-1944 or Managing Editor Kent Olson at 857-1939. Either can be reached at 1-800-735-3229. You also can send e-mail suggestions to

Article Photos

Jill Schramm/MDN

Cori Lindsay
, community development director in Stanley, stands outside the housing authority’s new four-plexes that have been sold and will be occupied in May 1.



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