City of Bismarck starts strategic planning project

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One role of the Bismarck city commission is to constantly make improvements to the city in all areas. For the next year, it’s reaching out to citizens to see what they think needs to be done.

A consulting firm based out of Dallas was brought in at the request of the commission. Their goal is to create a new strategic plan for the city. 

“For it to really be a community strategic plan, they’re representing the community. So, what they’ve asked us to do is engage the community as much as we can, so that it’s not just the 5 people that happen to sit on the city commission and their plan or their ideas,” said CEO of JD Gray Group, Jason Gray.

In other words, a strategic plan is a broad vision for the city throughout the next few years. These groups brought in a lot of ideas and solutions to common problems they’ve seen throughout Bismarck. 

Bismarck resident Mike McCormack said, “Young people are somewhat frustrated with Bismarck, that there’s a lot of talent coming into Bismarck but they need more encouragement, they need better salaries. They need more to do.”

He says these things are needed to retain talent in an already struggling workforce shortage the city is facing. This focus group zeroed in on the arts, saying more of it would keep those young workers here longer. 

“We need to get that spirit. If we have some of these things, we’re going to see a difference in what happens with people who move here,” said Eileen Walsh, executive director for the Dakota West Arts Council.

Meetings were held all day focused on other facets like healthcare, education, and business.
But Gray noticed a common theme throughout. 

Gray added, “It’s a combination of hey, we’ve gotten some really good things, and we’ve got a long ways to go.”

“The question is, where do you want to end up? And I think most of us in that room today have the same idea. We want to stay in Bismarck. We want to be the Bismarck that we know and love, but will we make the sacrifices to make those changes?” said McCormack.

Gray tells me they aren’t limiting their reach to adults. They’ll be paying a visit to high schoolers, and even some middle schoolers, throughout the next year. 

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