Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Out of the Silo

The first place that Julie Rath, head of the Redwood Area Development Corporation, took me was to the Redwood Area Community Center. She told me, “We built this facility in 2000 as a partnership of the City of Redwood Falls and the local school district. It cost $9 million to build. The Parks and Recreation Department runs it.”

The facility includes an ice skating rink that doubles as a civic center in the summer, a conference center that can seat up to 500, a field house with a track and up to four basketball/volleyball courts, and a fitness center. Future plans are to add an aquatic center.

I was amazed at how a town of 5,459 in rural Minnesota was able to put such a project together. Plans started in 1995 when a feasibility study was contracted for. From March, 1997 to February, 1999 a group of 100 local citizens started meeting to brainstorm and visited over 30 similar facilities. Taking on a $9 million project was, I’m sure very daunting but here is how they broke it down into smaller bites and brought various groups into the project. I call it “tearing down the silos”, or getting various groups, often with conflicting interests to work together.

The Redwood Area School District funded $4 million; the City of Redwood Falls $2.8 million; State of Minnesota $1 million; Tax Referendum $0.9 million; private donations $0.25 million and Mighty Ducks grant $0.25 million.

What are you doing to tear down the silos in your town? What project could you do, if those silos fell?

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