In 18 months, there were 26 community meetings, 30 interviews and 2000 website visitors that helped build Ramsey County’s Economic Competitiveness and Inclusion Plan.
Along with various consulting teams, the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners developed this plan that outlines economic and community goals in the next five years.
Two of these Commissioners came on our Cities Speak Podcast to talk about creating, examining and implementing this plan.
Connecting with community
The first step of the plan was to reach out to community members. They asked them what they thought the county’s economic issues were to gain some perspective.
“Previously, government engagement meant, “We’ve built this plan and now we’re going to share it with the community.” We need to start with the community because our conception of what the problem may be and what the solutions may be may not align with theirs,” said Nicole Joy Frethem, District 1 Ramsey County Commissioner.
According to Frethem, Ramsey County wants to emphasize partnering and sharing power with the community. After they spoke to their residents, it was time to decide the focus areas of the action plan.
“This plan is the first of its kind regionally to truly center racial equity at the heart of our idea of economic competitiveness,” said Trista Matascastillo, District 3 Ramsey County Commissioner.
The plan accesses the needs of the community surrounding its housing, jobs and general economy, and how the county can address the disparities between communities of color and the white community within these areas.
“The question for us is, “Are we really being effective in ensuring equity for everyone?” said Frethem.
Achieving affordable housing
The county needs about 15,000 affordable housing units to address the need of those impacted by lack of affordable housing. Having affordable housing is when less than 30 percent of one’s income is spent on housing.
The plan found that there is enough affordable housing in Ramsey County to close the wealth gap in one generation.
“It isn’t an option knowing that it’s possible. It has to be the goal,” said Matascastillo.
The County is not only working to preserve existing affordable housing, but also to construct new housing.
“There are more opportunities and we want to be a partner in that and step up in a way that all the other counties around us already have,” said Frethem.
To read the full 51-page plan, head over to Ramsey County’s website.
“It will guide us in how we invest in our community to make sure that we have shared prosperity for everyone that we continue to grow in Ramsey County, we expand our tax space and we close that wealth gap between our communities of color and the white community.” said Matascastillo.