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Posted on December 30, 2019 at 11:38 AM by Bryan Obenchain
“One voice. One mission. One Minot.”
That will be the focus of our third annual State of the City on Feb. 6, which will again be held at the Arvel Graving Theater at Minot’s Magic City Campus. Beginning at 4:45 p.m. with a traveling City Hall that includes department heads and other City employees, the event includes a speech and presentation by me and a social hour.
It’s an important opportunity for community members to discuss City ideas and projects up close and personal with department heads and the members of the City Council. It’s also a chance to voice your input on our community’s vision during one of the most important times in our City’s history, as we push ahead with major infrastructure projects that will protect our community and its residents for decades to come. We hope you’ll join us on Feb. 6.
One exciting aspect of this year’s State of the City is an opportunity for community members to provide us with their artistic vision of Minot – literally, by participating in the “Minot Through Your Eyes” contest.
The guidelines for the photo/video contest are simple: Submit original photos, videos, or works of art that show “Minot Through Your Eyes.” You can submit your entries at https://www.minotnd.org/667/Mayors-Community-Challenge or through Instragram using #myminot or #oneminot. The winners will be announced and shown as part of my speech during the State of the City event.
We expect the submissions to illustrate the diverse views of our community. That’s exactly the point of the “Minot Through Your Eyes” contest. It’s your perception or view of our community, and no one can take that away from you. Ask everyone in Minot to visually describe Minot, and you’ll get thousands of different opinions and views.
Perhaps it’s a photo of a landmark of our city, like the Theodore Roosevelt statue, a particularly photogenic old building in our historic downtown, or the Dome at Minot State University. It could be one of our rambunctious animal friends at Roosevelt Park Zoo, or children playing in your neighborhood. Or, a scenic view of Minot, maybe along the banks of the Souris River.
Or, maybe it’s a video taken during one of the major events our community hosts every year, like the Norsk Hostfest or the North Dakota State Fair. It could be video of a dramatic sunset or sunrise, or watching the wonder of a young child as you drive through the iconic Christmas in the Park light display put on every year in Oak Park.
Then again, maybe it’s a watercolor painting in a local park, or a pencil drawing of the old walking bridge that leads to the Eastwood Park section of town.
The point is, it’s your view of Minot we’re interested in. The subject matter might be important only to you, or to your family, but that’s what makes this contest unique. “Minot Through Your Eyes” can truly mean something different to every resident of our community, and we’re looking forward to the beauty and history of our city, captured by you.
We hope you’ll take advantage of this opportunity to not only showcase your artistic talent, but to highlight aspects of Minot that not everyone sees on a regular basis.
We look forward to seeing “Minot Through Your Eyes,” and we look forward to seeing you Feb. 6 at the State of the City.
Sincerely, City Hall
You can find more about what’s happening at the City of Minot at minotnd.org, or find us on Facebook and Twitter. We’d also encourage you to sign up for our monthly electronic newsletter on our website.
Posted on December 16, 2019 at 10:53 AM by Bryan Obenchain
The data unveiled recently as part of Minot’s One Brand campaign was something of an early Christmas present.
The research, compiled by Odney and presented to community stakeholders on Dec. 9, showed that most Minot-area residents surveyed have a positive view of our community. In fact, 86.4 percent of respondents said they have a very favorable or somewhat favorable opinion of Minot. In addition, 65.7 percent of responders believed Minot to be growing and improving.
The best part of reading through the details of the data? Realizing that it confirms exactly what supporters of our community continue to stress: Minot is a great place to live, and the often-silent majority believes our community is growing, prospering, and headed in the right direction.
The One Brand campaign under development is meant to strengthen Minot’s identity, and to assist various community stakeholders to reinforce their working relationships for the betterment of Minot. Now, armed with data that shows more than 86 percent of survey respondents view Minot favorably and two-thirds believe Minot is growing and improving, the work of translating the data to real-world impacts can begin.
The data was certainly a welcome dose of positivity, and it also serves to validate what City of Minot leaders and others have been saying all along: There are great and positive things happening in our community, despite the naysayers who choose to sit on the sidelines and complain rather than actually getting involved in community activities and working to make Minot an even better city.
In fact, the survey showed that only 8.3 percent had an unfavorable view of Minot, and 4.9 percent had a very unfavorable view of the city. While those numbers represent a significant number of area residents that we must work harder to engage, the combined 13.2 percent also represents a clear minority. Perhaps we are doing some things right in Minot after all.
That’s not to say everything is perfect; there is much work ahead to make Minot the community we know it can be. We knew that before this survey was conducted in November, and the data sheds light on areas that need improvement. The survey showed that roads and traffic, followed by city government and community leadership, were the areas that most need improvement. Business recruitment and retention, affordable housing, and the cost of living were also areas tagged as needing improvement.
Minot’s roads do need work, and that’s why for the past few years we have directed more budget dollars to our roads, which has made construction seasons extremely busy with significant projects. Our backlog of road projects has been well-documented during budget discussions over the past couple of years, and we’re committed to making upgrades to our road system moving forward. Yes, that means there will be more road construction around the city in 2020, but roads and other infrastructure don’t magically fix themselves overnight; it takes time, funding, and hard work to upgrade even the most basic infrastructure needs.
We also weren’t shocked by the sentiment that our community needs more affordable housing; but we’re also working on solutions. Creating more affordable housing is a major component of the $74.3 million we were awarded through HUD’s Disaster Resilience Competition with at least $32 million of it dedicated to affordable housing. The South Park project to rehabilitate and expand affordable housing in south Minot is complete, and the Blu on Broadway project will create even more affordable housing units. Both projects highlight leveraging HUD funds with additional investment from public and private entities on a dollar-for-dollar basis.
The release of the data is only one step in the One Brand campaign. There is much work ahead to provide the necessary tools and assistance to community organizations so they can help spread the One Brand message. But that responsibility lies with members of our community, too. If you’re happy with a project going on in the City, it’s OK to speak up. If you’ve been part of a successful project, it’s OK to share your thoughts and opinions on that success. If you have a complaint or a criticism of a process or a project, voicing that complaint in a responsible manner can help us address the problem.
It’s time for the majority to be not-so-silent any longer and to help drive the narrative about the positive things happening in our community. We’ve always known this to be true, but the data from the One Brand campaign clearly shows there are many silent Minot supporters and believers out there who want our community to continue to grow and prosper. Remember: It’s your community, too.
Posted on December 2, 2019 at 9:49 AM by Bryan Obenchain
The 2020 Census is fast approaching, and the national once-every-decade population count is an opportunity to confirm what we’ve been anticipating: Minot’s population has hit the 50,000 mark.
By April 1, 2020, every home in the United States will receive an invitation by mail to take part in the 2020 Census. You can respond to the mailing or participate online, or by phone.
Like every community around the country, it’s vital to Minot’s future that we gain an accurate count of our residents. One recent estimate put Minot’s population at 47,500, although there is a general feeling that our actual population is closer to 50,000. In terms of the Census, reaching the 50,000 level would make an enormous difference for Minot.
There are several real and lasting benefits of reaching the 50,000 plateau.
First, Minot would be designated an “entitlement community” and receive an annual grant through the Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant program. Those funds, which could be between $250,000 and $400,000 annually for Minot, could be used for a wide variety of purposes, including economic development, public infrastructure and some forms of housing assistance. By reaching 50,000 in population, we would be guaranteed that funding annually until the 2030 Census. That funding can make a real difference in the City’s annual budget, and help lower local property tax rates.
Another benefit of reaching 50,000 in population is that Minot would qualify as a Metropolitan Statistical Area, which provide annual updates on a wide range of data including housing vacancy rates, population demographics, and employment trends. That data is critical when applying for a number of federal grants, and it would allow Minot to market itself as a metropolitan area, opening up potential new opportunities in tourism, investments, and businesses.
Bismarck, Fargo, and Grand Forks are already considered Metropolitan Statistical Areas and entitlement grantees, putting Minot at a distinct competitive disadvantage when recruiting new businesses or other investment opportunities.
According to information provided by www.2020census.gov, many national business chains use Census data when considering where to open new stores and restaurants, where to expand current operations, and which products and services to offer. And many of those business chains use 50,000 as a minimum population for a city to be considered for a new business.
The data from a Census also helps determine how billions of dollars in federal funding flow into states and communities. Disaster recovery efforts rely on Census data to tailor relief for affected homes and businesses, and emergency planners use the data to plan for the worst. Having been through an enormous natural disaster in 2011, Minot residents know all-too-well the process of navigating the multitude of federal disaster relief programs.
It’s relatively simple to be counted as part of Census 2020. You can reply online, by phone, or by regular mail when you receive the information packet sometime before April 1, 2020. All information is kept confidential. If someone says they are from the Census Bureau and asks for your Social Security number, your political affiliation, bank or credit card numbers, or seeks money, it’s a scam.
You can find more information at www.2020census.gov.
At the City, we’ll be rolling out educational information to help our residents understand the benefits of making sure we’re all counted. Often, the most challenging populations to accurately count can be children under 5, and those living in group settings, like students living in the dorms at Minot State University or military members living in housing at Minot Air Force Base. We want to help make the process as easy as possible for everyone.
If you’re concerned about the Census counting you as a Minot resident and affecting your citizenship elsewhere, don’t worry. In fact, you don’t need to be a United States citizen to be included; you only need to live in Minot for six months and one day to be counted as a Minot resident.
Minot will always be a big small town, so to speak, given our attitude of helping each other, especially during times of crisis. But we still need to know exactly how big our community has become; the 2020 Census will help us accomplish that goal.