City correct to wait on economic development plan

The City of Minot deserves a lot of credit for moving ahead on addressing old problems, taking up and resolving issues and setting an agenda for the city in a timely fashion. This has been a hallmark since Tom Barry became city manager and it has been one of the most optimistic analyses of the city the past two years.

Sometimes, though, there are items that should require more time and engender more support before being moved along.

Such was the case this week when the council voted to delay formation of a new economic development task force. Meeting in committee session, council members considered establishing a task force to lead efforts to assess and implement, with council approval, recommendations of the International Economic Development Council. IEDC is the leading, nonprofit organization representing economic development professions. As part of Minot’s resilience program, three professionals visited Minot to develop the analysis, which focused on the downtown.

Chamber President John MacMartin was the driving force in advocating the council not take the task force issue up at its meeting next week. Stakeholders have not had adequate time to study the details of the options and proposals thus set forward. MacMartin is correct. Without task force members and other stakeholders entirely comfortable with the proposed economic development roadmap, they risk becoming proxies for the professionals – a tendency that has haunted Minot in the past.

Furthermore, there seems to be some question about who all should make up the task force. Downtown business owner Pam Karpenko wisely said the downtown needs stronger representation on the task force than exists with one representative now. She suggested downtown representation include more than just members of the Downtown Business & Professional Association.

The one dissenting vote in the decision to slow down on addressing the IEDC report was Council member Josh Wolsky. He too made a good point about the need to make progress. The risk is that an extended delay could end up seeing the IEDC report (a very good study) filed away with similar plans from days past.

However, Minot Daily News has confidence in the current mayor, council and administration to pursue economic development smartly and effectively, and believes that a brief delay isn’t going to change that.

Instituted, the IEDC report has the potential to forever change for the better, the face of Minot. Its contemporary approach to economic development concepts reflect the best of modern urbanism. Better days are ahead.

Let’s just make sure they are as good as they can possibly be.