Red River Regional Council to Host Development Workshops for Northeastern North Dakota Counties

On October 14, 15, 18 and 19, the community will have the chance to get involved in the project as Brooks hosts community meetings for each of the four counties, where he will talk about areas in each county that he identifies as needing assistance. improvements. The presentations will be primarily photographic, and Brooks will offer suggestions on how cities can improve.

The meetings are part of a Red River Regional Council project called the Destination Red River Region. In an effort to find low-cost solutions to attract people to Grand Forks, Nelson, Pembina and Walsh counties, the council contracted Brooks, which has provided development services to more than 22,000 towns and villages across the world during his 40-year career.

Over the course of two weeks, Brooks visited 42 towns across the four counties, taking more than 2,000 photos along the way. He calls the process of visiting cities “secret shopping”. When shopping secretly, he sees a city through the eyes of a visitor and pays attention to the factors that contribute to quality of life, tourist attractions and the local economy.

Brooks visited each town with his wife Jane.

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“A woman will always have a different perspective than a man,” Brooks said. “We went to a few towns where she would reach out and close the door. I didn’t say a word, but it meant she didn’t feel safe.

According to Brooks, 40 of the 42 cities he visited are losing population. Data from census 2020 argues it – most small towns in North Dakota are losing people, while urban centers continue to grow. Brooks believes millennials are ready to move to small towns in rural areas, but only if the city makes changes, like demolishing abandoned buildings and investing in community spaces and programs.

“If you want young families, they have to feel accepted,” Brooks said. “They want to be in a place where they can see positive change. “

Brooks was chosen for the Destination Red River Region project by a regional committee made up of members from each county. Committee member Amie Vasichek said the committee chose Brooks and the Destination Development Association for their energy and hands-on approach to development. Vasichek is a resident of Nelson County and is excited about the potential of the four counties to work together as a region to bring traffic back to their communities.

“I think everyone has the same goal and the same ideas, but maybe they have different ideas that we can tap into,” Vasichek said. “It will allow us to work together and nourish each other. “

Julie Gemmell, a member of the Walsh County Regional Committee, agreed with Vasichek, saying that counties working together as a region is an innovative way to solve the population problems of northeastern North Dakota.

“I think working together as a collaborative effort is going to take us beyond each county doing something alone,” Gemmell said.

After meetings with the public, Brooks will meet with county committees and other stakeholders in the region to brainstorm suggestions on how to improve each county. In March, Brooks will return to the region with action plans to implement low-cost solutions to attract people to the region.

Dates and times of meetings:

  • Grand Forks County: Tuesday, Oct. 19, 9 a.m. – Pheasant Room at the Alerus Center
  • Nelson County: Monday, Oct. 18, 9 a.m. – Lakota Community Center
  • Pembina County: Friday, October 15, 9 a.m. – Akra Hall at Iceland National Park
  • Walsh County: Thursday, October 14, 9 a.m. – Minto Community Center

Elna M. Lemons