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Goal 2: Strengthen the Region's Economic Vitality

Goal Captains: Joanna Schrupp and Leslie Valiant

Volunteer Force: 44

Goal Progress Reports:   Click Here


Economic Vitality focuses on strengthening economic opportunities throughout the region.


In order to achieve this, Goal Two established one sub goal and four other areas of focus:



Goal Two: Manufacturing Goal Two: Learning and Earning Goal Two: Expanding Middle and High Skill Jobs
Goal Two: Economic Progress and Job Growth Goal Two: Opportunities For Entrepreneurs  



Here are a few of the things they’ve accomplished:

EDC Business Retention and Expansion Study 

A study was initiated by the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar EDC and the Willmar Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce Grow MN! Team to accomplish the following objectives:

  • Demonstrate support for local businesses
  • Help solve immediate business concerns
  • Increase local businesses’ ability to compete in the global economy
  • Establish and implement a strategic plan for economic development
  • Build capacity to sustain growth and development


Sixty convention, retail, tourism and service industry businesses and 22 manufacturing businesses were interviewed. 

There are a number of groups currently working on projects as a result of this study. 

Learn more about those projects on the Willmar Lakes Area Vision 2040 website in this blog or contact the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar EDC for more information.

Boomtown USA Event 

Sixty seven community members attended the Boomtown USA event held in September 2015.  The event featured Craig Lindvahl who shared the 7 ½ Steps to Big Success in Small Towns based on the book by Jack Schultz which included the following seven keys to small town viability:

  • Key #1: Adopt a Can-Do Attitude
  • Key #2: Shape Your Vision
  • Key #3: Leverage Your Resources
  • Key #4: Raise Up Strong Leaders
  • Key #5: Encourage an Entrepreneurial Spirit
  • Key #6: Maintain Local Control
  • Key #7: Build Your Brand

Mr. Lindvahl also discussed how to engage millennials in the process and other tips based on his book Things You Wish You Knew Yesterday: And Other Stuff You Need To Know Tomorrow. 


Learn more about the Boomtown USA event in the blog on the Vision 2040 website.

Inner City Leadership Tour to Fargo, West Fargo and Moorhead 

A group of 23 people from the Willmar Lakes Area spent two days visiting Fargo in October 2015 to learn from this successful community some tips on achieving our goals. They attended panels, explored the downtown, industrial park, housing and university sections of Fargo. They learned several takeaways that will help the Willmar area move our communities forward including these points of consideration:

  • Willmar is a Regional Center, like Fargo, how do we start to act like one? What does that look like?
  • Willmar and Kandiyohi County have many bright spots and we need to concentrate on our opportunities.
  • How do we capitalize on our assets?


For more takeaways and information on the Inner City Leadership Tour, read this blog on the Vision 2040 website.


Other achievements:

•Hosted Robert Valdez, Director of WAMM who discussed WAMM training for entrepreneurs.
•Hosted Cathy Baumgartner, Central MN Jobs in Training Services who discussed how employers and the public and use their services to post jobs, find workers and create training.
•Hosted Julie Redepenning, Business Services in Central and Southwest MN from DEED who discussed her role as encouraging the creation and retention of high quality jobs through business growth.
•Hosted Dr. Douglas Allen, President of Ridgewater College and Sam Bowen, Dean of Customized Training at Ridgewater College who discussed the benefits of Ridgewater’s training programs to fill gaps in skills.
•Continues to offer opportunities to attend programing like DEED’s Workforce Seminar to continue education on workforce issues.

Moving forward, Goal #2 is looking to create an interest in manufacturing firms by developing manufacturing awareness in the month of October via schools, public and private entities. They will also be working collaboratively with Goal #4 to start 1 Million Cup and continue the Intercity Leadership Visits.



Get Involved

Help us make the Willmar Lakes Area a better place! Join your neighbors, friends and coworkers as we work together to Attract & Retain more awesome people to the area. Click here to Get Involved!

From our community volunteers

“We are proud to be part of the Vision 2040 effort here at the community foundation because it aligns with our core mission to engage people, connect resources and build community. It was an easy choice to invest not only financial resources to support Vision 2040 but also to lend significat board and staff time to help drive this effort forward. It's transforming our communities for the future our residents dream about-using their ideas and energies to make good things happen organically in real time and for years to come-and we want to be part of making that possible!”

Sara Carlson, Willmar Area Community Foundation

I made connections with community members and found many common visions.  I have begun to get more active in the community due to the connections.

Alumni, Class of 2016

I am excited to make a difference and feel confident to do so!

Alumni, Inaugural Class of 2015
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