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Grand Forks seeks public input to make city more welcoming

The water wheel in Grand Forks' Town Square. (Grand Forks Herald photo)

The Welcoming Community Roadmap project started out as an initiative for city leaders, said project committee chair Robin David, to make Grand Forks more welcoming to new residents.

But after numerous community surveys, focus groups and a working group of 62 Grand Forks residents, the committee realized its project had become a community effort, David said. Now the group will seek public input from residents.

"It became clear there was so much momentum on this part of the project, we decided to switch halfway through the process," she said.

The committee has released a list of recommendations on ways the city can do a better job serving its newcomers. The recommendations all relate to four goals—increasing access to basic services like health care and housing, ensuring all residents have the opportunity to advance in civic life, improving economic situations and guaranteeing all residents can connect with their community.

"It's making sure they have what they need to move ahead," David said.

After receiving help from the community in creating the recommendations, David said the committee is looking forward to the project's next step: a two-week public input period during which residents have until Sept. 24 to read the recommendations and share their thoughts online at www.grandforksgov.com/gfiii.

"Any kind of process should go through a public input period," David said, this one especially due to its "broad community nature."

The roadmap project began when the city received a technical grant from Gateways for Growth, meant to help Grand Forks attract and retain newcomers. The city's Immigration Integration Initiative is leading the project, but David emphasized the committee's recommendations pertain to all newcomers—immigrants, students and people moving in from elsewhere.

Once the public input period closes, the next step is to review responses and revise the recommendations accordingly, David said. She will present the finished product to the City Council Oct. 15, she said, with hopes the council will ratify the suggestions this fall so the city can begin implementation next year.

David has yet to read any public input, but most groups she has presented to have been supportive, she said.

"I think what's so intriguing about it is the scale of it," David said. "The city really has a chance to shift things in a meaningful way for Grand Forks, and to create a place people want to move to."

Emily Allen

Allen joined the Grand Forks Herald to cover local government and politics May 2018. Call her at 701-780-1102, email her at eallen@gfherald.com or follow her on Twitter, @Emily_theHerald.

(701) 780-1102
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