Rosemount Town Pages: City, U of M kick off partnership

By Emily Zimmer, Rosemount Town Pages, September 25, 2014

Like all communities, Rosemount faces challenges ahead. Unlike most communities, though, for the next year, Rosemount has a team of University of Minnesota faculty and students trying to find solutions to those pressing issues.

The University of Minnesota and Rosemount kicked off a year-long partnership through the Resilient Communities Project during a luncheon Sept. 18 at the Rosemount Community Center. Throughout the academic year, students and faculty will tackle nearly 40 projects Rosemount leaders identified over the summer.

Resilient Communities director Carissa Schively Slotterback said the overall goal is to do real meaningful work in Rosemount that will make a lasting impact.

The Resilient Communities Project matches community-identified projects with existing graduate and professional courses at the University of Minnesota.

Selected through a competitive request-for-proposal process, Rosemount is the third community to participate in the Resilient Communities Project. Program manager Mike Greco said Rosemount has shown a lot of initiative in terms of sustainability, including the city’s involvement in the STAR Communities program, a national benchmark program that rates the city.

“Rosemount is a model community in the state in respects to sustainability,” said Greco.

While the word sustainability is generally associated with environmental issues, projects identified also tackle matters such as economic opportunity, social equity and community livability. Slotterback said Rosemount’s proposal included a tremendous amount of engagement and diversity in the issues it wants addressed.

“We’re taking on the future,” Slotterback told the audience of about 100.

Over the course of the academic year, hundreds of students and several dozen faculty members will work on the identified projects. Projects will span a range of disciplines including architecture, planning, engineering, environmental sciences, business, education and the humanities.

For their effort, students and faculty will receive opportunities to gain practical experience. In particular, students will have the opportunity to help solve real-world problems across a range of disciplines and work with professionals including city staff, area legislators and business owners in their chosen fields.

Some of the projects have already started and others will start later in the academic year. Rosemount Community Development director Kim Lindquist said students have shown a lot of enthusiasm for the projects so far.

“It’s a nice breath of fresh air to see students and faculty so excited,” said Lindquist.

Senior planner Eric Zweber said he’s enjoyed interacting with students and is excited to see what they will bring to the table.

While the program only runs a year, Greco said the Resilient Communities Project aims to be an ongoing resource for the communities it chooses. In particular, he said city leaders will have connections at the university.

Overall, Greco said participation in the program will position Rosemount to be creative, competitive, responsive and resilient into the future.

Mayor Bill Droste said Rosemount is honored to have been selected and he’s looking forward to seeing what the partnership accomplishes.

Over the last decade Rosemount has experienced tremendous growth and the issues that go along it including adding infrastructure and resources.

He added that all cities are having discussions about sustainability and by being part of the Resilient Communities Project, Rosemount is getting a leg up.

“We are just thrilled to be part of this,” Droste told the audience Friday.

The University of Minnesota will provide updates about its progress throughout the year on its website

Emily Zimmer has worked as a staff writer for the Rosemount Town Pages since 2007. She has a degree in journalism from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Outside of work, Emily enjoys running, reading and gardening. You can follow Emily's gardening adventures at the Areavoices blog East of Weedin'. Contact Emily at [email protected] or (651) 460-6606.