Outlining the need for deliberate economic development strategy in Nobles County

As a regional commercial and employment center, Worthington and Nobles county stand to benefit greatly from engaging the community in a planning process to identify economic development objectives and quantify existing development opportunities. Nobles Economic & Regional Development Strategy (NErDS) will be the culmination of such process.

NErDS is a plan designed to outline specific steps we can take collectively in order to achieve key economic development objectives. This is a short to mid range plan that will also result in establishing priorities to develop effective capital investment element for the community as a whole. 

For NErDs to succeed in pursuing defined objectives it requires buy-in and direct participation from all stakeholders. The plan’s strength is predicated on the recognition that both the private and public sectors operate within the same market and live within similar opportunities and constraints.

As we work together to develop NErDS, we need to recognize the important role that land use planning plays in supporting private and public investments. Lack of land use planning invariably makes for an environment that diminishes return on investment, and creates long-term public financial and social burdens.

Platting of road right of ways and provision of proper access is critical to the value and vitality of commercial activities. Such prerequisites are important to ensure proper social, economic and community return on investment. Basic requirements of economic development have to be addressed in order to position each parcel and thereby the community for maximum positive returns.

NErDS will acknowledge shortfalls of past experiences, not as an indictment of the history of land use planning. It will do so to recognize the potential negative impact(s) of “single parcel think” on the collective health of the whole neighborhood.

Today and throughout Worthington and Nobles County, there are number of opportunities in the short term for both, in-fill development, redevelopment, and in identifying and bringing resources to serve a well-planned industrial park land, and commercial corridors.

Public investments in transportation, water, sewer, industrial and commercial parks, energy, and other utilities all must be placed in a way that addresses the long-term impact on land value, location in relationship to existing and future land use, and its potential to contribute effectively to the tax base. Such process is critical to maintaining quality of life for the people who interact with the space.

Recent investments by the city of Worthington, the county, and Minnesota department of transportation require strategic thinking on the part of all involved to plan. The plan must attempt to find answers to redevelopment challenges along Oxford Street, address future industrial and commercial needs of the business community, all the while keeping an eye out to minimize land use conflicts.

NErDS’ intent is to get the discussion going, identify stakeholders, and agree to focus resources to address both the private and the common goods. Both stand to reap tremendous benefit by working together towards defined community goals.

As WREDC begins to outline future course, there are four focus areas that need immediate attention to put the community on the right track and to attract the right scale and type of economic development.

  • Redevelopment mixed use and infill.
  • New commercial/industrial opportunities.
  • Housing.
  • Transportation & Infrastructure.

Economic development cannot take shape in vacuum. It requires certain prerequisites, such as status, scale, and distribution of infrastructure services. Furthermore, it demands the adoption of standards and requires leadership to help build enduring public/private coalitions.

NErDs could only be effective to the extent that local government, non-profit, and, private sector partners are active in shaping its objectives, and are part of its implementation.


The main tools for plan development center of clear understanding of existing conditions, it then analysis data to come up with recommendations and identify solutions . The plan will deploy among other elements:


  • “Know thy self”. (data driven economic development & marketing)
  • Ensure buy in and participation of all stakeholders.
  • Establish and adopt priorities.
  • Identify Tools: RLF’s USDA, TIF, Abatement, Tax Credits, Private investor groups.
  • State, local and Federal resources.
  • Create Public Private Partnerships. P3s

While NErDs is focused on Nobles county MN and its environs, its basic principals of the plan are scalable and could apply across wide spectrum of similar markets.