The City Council received an update on the Strategic Plan as of the end of first quarter at their June 1, 2016 meeting.
Positioning for Growth
Strategy #1: Hire ED Director: The city hired a new Economic Development Director in February and a new Economic Development Assistant at the beginning of May; The new economic development team is working with the University of Minnesota Extension Program Director for the BR&E program to develop Cottage Grove’s BR&E.
Strategy #2: Develop Successful Business Park Plan: The consulting firm Stantec will help update the Comprehensive Plan, through which the boundaries of the business park will be reviewed; The City is mass grading 17 acres in the business park. The acreage will be certified through the Department of Employment and Economic Development’s (DEED) Shovel Ready Certification; Staff is developing an agreement with the WAG Trust for the ongoing land deal. This agreement will provide the EDA development rights over all properties owned by WAG and their other entities in the Business Park area; Staff drafted a plan for the expedited review of development project proposals which will provide a consistent point of contact throughout the development process; Staff is reviewing the business subsidy policy and will bring recommendations to the EDA in June. A SAC credit policy is also being reviewed; Economic Development is working with Communications to create a marketing plan for the business park, which will also be used to market the whole city for economic development; The City held a BRT Lunch and Learn on April 22 to gain business feedback on the BRT Station Planning; Staff is reviewing City ordinances requiring Class I building materials in Industrial Zoning.
Strategy #3: Space Needs Study for PW & Parks: Staff is gathering estimates from engineering firms to conduct the space needs study and those estimated costs will be included in the 2017 budget discussion.
Strategy #4: Conference with Developers, Real Estate Brokers, and Land Owners: Staff is selecting a speaker(s) for the forum. The focus of the forum will be housing trends in the metro and what Cottage Grove can expect for future housing needs; Staff is evaluating the effectiveness of continuing with a Business Appreciation Event such as a golf tournament or River Boat Cruise.
Strategy #5: Finalize RRCC BRT Stations: The City held a BRT Lunch and Learn on April 22 to gain business feedback on the BRT Station Planning and is actively working with Washington County to identify a preferred route and stations.
As Bob Shaw pointed out in his article, “Cottage Grove goes from ‘not’ to hot,” the City is experiencing an resurgence of growth with an increase in jobs in the business park, a housing boom with Summer’s Landing and two new senior complexes, and new businesses, such as Aldi and Rivertown Cakes.
Reforming Organizational Culture
Strategy #1: Training and Travel Committee (Tuition Reimbursement): The summer Management Intern is developing an employee survey to gather feedback on the City’s current Training and Travel policy and a training and travel committee will be created; Human Resources has offered additional training in Excel and Word for interested employees; Senior and Mid-level managers participated in Media Training.
Strategy #2: Evaluate Benefits for 2017 Budget: City review of the parental paid leave policy was delayed due to state legislation. That legislation has failed and staff will resume reviewing the parental paid leave policy; Staff reviewed HSA funding levels and submitted a proposal for the upcoming budget process.
Strategy #3: Health and Wellness Committee: The Wellness Committee held its first meeting on February 28. The Committee elected a chairperson and has employee representatives from all departments; The Wellness Committee approved goals, objectives, and expectations for the group; The Wellness Committee held their first event on May 4, participating in National Get Fit Don’t Sit Day. The committee is planning a challenge event for June and is revamping the Health and Benefits Fair for fall; The Chair and Staff Liaison are preparing a budget proposal for 2017; A monthly wellness newsletter started in May.
Strategy #4: Emphasize Career Path Options During Annual Reviews: In April 2016, Human Resources updated the Performance Appraisal Forms to include training goals and mid-year checks on the employees. Supervisors will be trained on the new forms in July.
Strategy #5: Compensation Plan for 2018: Staff will develop the Request for Proposal (RFP) over the summer and send the RFP out in September, with the expectation to award the contract during November-December timeframe. Furthermore, staff will make contact with other human resources professionals in similar cities to determine a budget estimate for the upcoming budget plan.
Strategy #6: 2017 Budget for 3 Firefighters/Paramedics: As part of the 2017 budget, Public Safety staff will be requesting funding for three firefighters/paramedics and will provide justification in the proposal.
Strategy #7: Employee Survey: The Management Intern has begun to work on creating the survey document for the Employee Survey.
As shown, progress has been made to reform organizational culture. The Wellness Committee is creating opportunities and events for employees, working to improve the health of employees and their families. Human Resources is reviewing various personnel policies and the Management Intern is developing survey documents.
Make Cottage Grove a Recreation Destination
Strategy #1: Park Improvement Plan: In February, City Council adopted the South Washington County (SWC) Athletic Needs Study; The Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) was amended to include recommendations from the SWC Athletic Needs Study, such as softball field fencing and shade structures. Staff is preparing long term budget implications and requests for the upcoming budget cycle; Staff held an initial meeting with ISD 833 and will have a follow up meeting this summer.
Strategy #2: River Oaks Business Plan: City Council adopted a business plan in February; The City hired an interim Golf Manager and two new chefs. A new menu is being developed; The restaurant is now named the Eagles at River Oaks Bar and Grill and has a new logo to reflect the name change.
Strategy #3: Create Mississippi River Access: Staff made contact with the landowner of the Mississippi River Boat Launch.
Cottage Grove is taking steps towards becoming a recreation destination. According to Recreation Staff, the City has seen an increase sports tournaments being held at City facilities. The city hosted 26 tournaments in 2014, 32 in 2015 and has 34 tournaments already booked for 2016 with more anticipated for this year.
Engaging the Community and Forming the Vision
Strategy #1: Hire Facilitator for Community Engagement: Staff drafted the Community Engagement RFP and sent it to four consulting firms. Three firms responded and the sub-committee interviewed two consultants. Staff will recommend hiring NEXT Generation Consulting at the June 1 City Council Meeting.
Strategy #2: Develop Communications Plan: Staff has identified key stakeholders and potential questions.
Strategy #3: Develop Engagement Strategies: This strategy depends on feedback from the Facilitator. No action to report at this time.
Strategy #4: Gather Community Input: No action update at this time.
Strategy #5: Develop Community Plan: No action update at this time.
After interviewing NEXT Generation Consulting, staff is excited to begin engaging the community and forming the vision. The consulting firm has several innovative ideas to engage the citizens of Cottage Grove.
City staff continues to utilize the four strategic directions to guide our efforts and this report is a snapshot of progress to date. We will continue to provide quarterly updates to the Mayor and Council as well as incorporate the initiatives into the 2017 budget process. If there are any questions, please contact the City Administrator.