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Crosslake: Group plans for Minnesota Design Team visit

In preparation for the Minnesota Design Team's September visit, Crosslake residents and business owners - who are now calling themselves the Crosslakers - gathered to discuss ideas for the city's development Monday, June 6, at Crosslake City Hall.

The Minnesota Design Team (MDT) is an organization primarily made up of volunteers that aims to help cities identify future direction by creating a visual perspective. The MDT has selected Crosslake as one of two Minnesota cities that it will visit this year.

Monday's meeting was devoted to completing a SWOT analysis, in which the attendees discussed the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) present in the Crosslake community. The goal of the SWOT analysis is to help develop an eventual list of the top things that Crosslake community members feel should be a part of the MDT's plan for the city.

"They need to get a broad perspective from the community about what our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the environment are in our community, as far as economic, social, cultural," Crosslake Economic Development Authority member Leah Heggerston said.

Some of Crosslake's strengths discussed at the meeting were the presence of lakes, the clean environment, the strong faith-based community, the various camps such as Camp Knutson and the city's high entrepreneurial spirit due to the numerous independently owned businesses.

Apparent weaknesses included the city's lack of connectivity and lack of public beaches and docks. Uncontrollable threats identified were weather, economic volatility and invasive species in the lakes.

Opportunities the community members identified as possible ways for the MDT to develop the city were tapping more into the natural resources like lakes and forests for new recreational activities, as well as trying to use business owners and residents as marketers for Crosslake. One idea that came out of the discussion on opportunities was to better educate more community members so everyone will be able to answer the question, "What is there to do in Crosslake?"

The main goal the Crosslakers hope to accomplish through the design team's visit is to chart the course for Crosslake's future.

Community meeting set Tuesday

The first of three community-wide meetings for the public to share input for the Minnesota Design Team (MDT) will be held from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 4, at the Crosslake Community Center shelter.

Dan Frank from the Initiative Foundation will facilitate the meeting. Root beer floats will be served.

Since 1983, the MDT has worked with more than 100 Minnesota communities. The group is composed of professionals who volunteer their time to assist communities in recognizing opportunities for future growth. The group's purpose is to make recommendations that communities can choose whether or not to adopt based on ideas presented by the MDT and the Crosslake community.

The MDT will visit Crosslake Sept. 16-17.

Frank is the Initiative Foundation's senior program manager for community development and has been at the foundation since 2001. He has served more than 70 communities in central Minnesota through the Healthy Community Partnership and Thriving Community Initiative programs, training more than 1,000 local community leaders and working with them to implement positive community change through collaboration.

Frank's background includes four years as a community education director and more than 35 years in nonprofit and for-profit business management. He is a veteran of the U.S. Army Special Forces and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration from Buena Vista University.

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