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Economic Development Study Reveals Anoka County Opportunities, Challenges

            How can Anoka County retain, attract, and grow businesses?

            Seeking an answer to that question, Anoka County, the MetroNorth Chamber of Commerce, and Connexus Energy together commissioned an economic development study to assess the county’s strengths and identify its challenges and opportunities.  Ady Advantage, a nationally-recognized economic development, site selection, and marketing consulting firm, was selected by a steering committee whose members include Commissioner Rhonda Sivarajah, chair, Anoka County Board; Don Haller, Connexus Energy vice president of Member Services; MetroNorth Chamber President Lori Higgins; and city economic development staff.  The consulting firm spent months compiling data, researching the region, visiting sites available for development, and interviewing stakeholders, such as CEOs, young professionals, and real estate brokers.

            “This study is a critical first step to help Anoka County and its municipalities retain and attract businesses to sustain and grow our local economy,” Haller said.

            Preliminary results of the study were released this week and among the key findings: Anoka County has lower-priced land than other parts of the Twin Cities metro, a strong manufacturing core, good public schools, and affordable, reliable access to electric power.  The study also noted however, that more than 120,000 residents leave the county to commute to work each day.  “Creating a marketing campaign to promote the great benefits of working in Anoka County is just one of the takeaways we have from this assessment,” Higgins said.

            The steering committee will meet next month to discuss ways in which the economic development study can be used as the foundation of a multi-year strategic plan.  “This study is an important tool that, moving forward, all stakeholders can use to build on our considerable strengths and also address our challenges,” Sivarajah said.