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Otsego's Strategic Plan to Scale Long-Term Growth Amid Population Rise

City of Otsego

Otsego, MN

Facing 47% population growth over the last 10 years, Otsego wanted to develop a plan that would grow with it. The city council and staff collaborated to create a strategic plan that outlined specific goals and steps crucial to reaching them.

Topics Covered

Civic Technology
Process Improvement

Cost

Not available

Funding

General Fund/Existing Public Funds

Project Status

Operational since 2018

Gov Champion

Finance Director and City Administrator

Problem Addressed

The City of Otsego’s rapid growth prompted the need for long-term strategic initiatives.

Otsego, MN is relatively young, only gaining its cityhood 32 years ago. Neighbored by cities established long before it, it became difficult to source solutions relevant to a growing city. 

After experiencing a 47% population growth over the last census period, the city council and staff were responsible for transitioning their roles to fit an ever-growing city. A team who was previously responsible for budgeting small expenses was now expected to budget for larger infrastructure developments and citizen engagement programs, completely new to them. 

Not only were their roles changing, but so were their goals. Most importantly, Otsego needed to look farther in the future, with goals that were within the two to five-year window. These goals were crucial to budgeting, and subsequently meeting community needs. 

Solutions Used

Otsego developed a strategic plan that outlined community priorities and the steps required to achieve them. 

Starting from scratch, Otsego developed its first strategic plan in 2018. City of Otsego staff participated in a day and a half retreat, facilitated by HueLife, holding conversations between staff and council members to gather feedback that helped develop its strategic direction. By the end of the day, city staff outlined 5 things it wanted for Otsego by 2023: 

  • Lead the community through innovative communication
  • Expanded infrastructure essential to providing core services
  • Quality emergency service 
  • Diverse housing, service, and employment opportunities
  • Connected community known for its natural resources 

This laid the foundation for Otsego’s three strategic directions, which were to guide the organization over the next two years:

  • Positioning for growth
  • Empowering the organization
  • Engaging stakeholders.

First-year accomplishments and success indicators were outlined for each direction. For example, there is a park plan in progress for the goal 'positioning for growth’ - a program that was identified as being important to the community. A first-year accomplishment would be to finish the plan, and a success indicator is that it’s all completed and incorporated into CIP systems plans. 

After creating the first strategic plan, the City of Otsego had clear action items to follow. Staff ensures that all actions and plans can be tied back to these priorities when making decisions during major meetings. Otsego is continuously adapting to its growing population and runs a guided facilitation every two years to reassess its progress and modify its goals accordingly. 

Outcomes

1

A strategic plan that has given the city the direction it need to grow with its expanding population

2

Initiatives that staff can refer back to during critical meetings and decision-making

3

Ability to tie budget line items back to the goals outlined by staff

4

Clear deliverables designed to keep staff accountable to assignments and timelines

Lessons Learned

1

Keeping the goals manageable and being honest about how much time and resources you'll be able to allocate to a project are essential to abiding by the strategic plan.

Something Unique

While the first plan was developed in 2018, Otsego has worked with HueLife every two years since to revisit and refine the original plan, to ensure staff has updated goals to refer to.

Government Project Team

  • Adam Flaherty, City Administrator & Finance Director

Last Updated

Jun 14th, 2022
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