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Vision 2040 planning effort is in early organizational stage

WILLMAR — The Willmar Vision 2040 effort is in the very early stage of organizing and a chairperson has not yet been selected because organizers want representation from the immigrant community, says Ken Warner, president of the Willmar Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber is one of 10 stakeholders in the effort to develop a 20-year vision for Willmar by engaging citizens and civic and business representatives and elected officials in a community-wide planning dialog.

The stakeholders held their organizational meeting Feb. 12 at the Chamber. On the agenda were discussion on finalizing the steering team and responsibilities, selecting a consultant to lead planning discussions, time frame, community engagement strategies and designating a fiscal host.

The effort was criticized by a City Council member for not reporting to the council and not providing meeting minutes and budget information. The city is among governmental entities, along with other stakeholders, that have paid $5,000 toward the consultant’s cost.

Warner said there will be meeting agendas, notes will be taken and financial statements will be generated. Organizers have asked the United Way of West Central Minnesota to be the fiscal host.

Warner said last week’s turnout was good, but he said it was obvious the Latino and East African immigrant communities were not represented. He said a one-page summary of Vision 2040 will be shared with them with a request to join the project.

“If we’re going to do true community visioning, we want the community at the table and they are part of our community,’’ said Warner.

Warner said Mayor Frank Yanish’s “dysfunctional’’ comment about Vision 2040 was unfortunate because the effort is still in the organizational stage.

“I can assure you that everybody at that table is going to work darn hard to make sure it’s successful and inclusive,’’ Warner said.

Warner said organizers did not know they had to give the information to the council because council member Bruce DeBlieck is the liaison.

“Hopefully over time as we get this put together, the city sees themselves as an equal partner,’’ said Warner. “There is more than just city money in it: other government money as well. There has to be some level of trust that we’re going to be good stewards of that money and do the right thing.’’

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150