What is Owatonna Forward?

Owatonna Forward is a grassroots “community visioning” effort that seeks to create a brighter future for all community members. There has not been a clear strategy for moving the community forward or a plan derived from shared meaning and mutual understanding. There is no clear roadmap for solving how to get to where the community wants to be. Yet we know that we must find new ways to positively work together. We believe the best days of our community are ahead of us, but we can only get there if we can agree to align around common priorities and work together to accomplish them. Owatonna Forward wants our community to dream again and to promote the thinking and possibilities of what we can accomplish together in alignment with one another.  

What’s Next?

Through extensive outreach and citizen engagement, all community members were invited to participate in a process of envisioning and informing the goals for Owatonna's future.  These goals are defined as Destiny Drivers.  Each represents what the community values and aspires to achieve.  

New community member Champions have stepped up to help lead each Destiny Driver's development and implementation. Once a clear plan of action is prepared, Champions will seek to launch each Destiny Driver within our community.  ALL citizens will be encouraged to engage with their skills and networks of relationships to help get the work done.  

Destiny Drivers

Revitalize Owatonna's Downtown District

Revitalize Owatonna’s Downtown District to become a vibrant and economic center of community life.

Why Do We Care?

Downtowns are the heart of a community and provide a glimpse into a community’s culture.  Increasingly, downtowns have become a key quality of life amenity.  A vibrant, thriving downtown will make it a destination and strengthen Owatonna’s economic future.

Driver Champion:  Brad Meier, Chamber of Commerce

Create and Implement a River District Plan

Create and implement a River District Plan by 2025.

Why Do We Care?

Owatonna has a relatively untapped asset—a scenic river flowing adjacent to our downtown.   The potential exists to redevelop the river district to serve as a recreational and social amenity for residents and visitors of all ages.

Driver Champion:  Troy Klecker, City of Owatonna

Address Employer Needs in the Region

Create and implement a post-secondary plan to meet current and future needs of employers in the region.

Why Do We Care?

One of Owatonna’s greatest strengths is its strong manufacturing and corporate business base.  The greatest concern of the business community is access to the talent they need to succeed and grow.  Ensuring the needs of its business community are met must be a primary focus of our region.

Driver Champion:  Dr. Adenuga Atewologun, Riverland Community College

Career Plans for 100% of Owatonna Graduates

By 2024, 100% of graduating Owatonna students will have an individual career plan.

Who Do We Care?

When choosing a community to live in, nothing matters more to young families with children than a high-quality education system.  A strong education is a cornerstone to a thriving community and ensuring a future generation that will be ready to compete in the global market.

Driver Champion: Anisha Zak, Steeleworks Partnership

Add 500 Units of Residential Housing

Owatonna will add 500 units of residential housing by 2021 to meet the needs of cost, style and location for residents and potential new residents.

Why Do We Care?

Availability of housing has become an obstacle to Owatonna’s ability to recruit and retain a sustainable workforce.  Identifying and creating divers housing options for a wide range of income levels will position Owatonna to meet the needs of its current and potential residents.

Driver Champion: Betsy Rossi. Housing Redevelopment Authority

Build a Community Center to Promote Health and Wellness

By 2022, Owatonna will build an inclusive community center that promotes community health and wellness.

Why Do We Care?

Quality of life is paramount in order to maintain a viable community.  We must encourage people to want to live, work, visit and retire in Owatonna.  A community center will help to draw workforce talent and keep people in our region.  It will provide a central location for citizens and visitors to pursue fitness, education, arts and culture, aquatics, recreation and social opportunities.

Driver Champion:  Dr. Brian Bunkers, Mayo Clinic Health System; Dave Albrecht, Allina Health; Troy Klecker, City of Owatonna

Develop a Steele County Fairgrounds Destination Plan

Develop a Steele County Fairgrounds Destination Plan to fully utilize its potential.

Why Do We Care?

Owatonna hosts the largest county fair in Minnesota, the Steele County Free Fair, drawing over 250,000 annually.  This community event is special to Owatonna, but the fairground site is underutilized the remainder of the year.  Identifying current and emerging opportunities for the site could be of economic significance for residents and visitors.

Driver Champion:  Dan Deml, Steele County Free Fair Board; Steve Schroht, Steele County

Improve Lines of Communication between the Public and Law Enforcement

Improve lines of communication between the public and law enforcement through community engagement and other initiatives.

Why Do We Care?

Public safety is an attribute that residents highly value.  As demographics continue to grow and change, it is important that we create pathways that ensure safe neighborhoods and streets, and a low crime rate so that community members continue to live with a strong sense of safety and security.

Driver Champion:  Keith Hiller, City of Owatonna

Lead Pre-K through Grade 12 Educational Opportunities and Rank in State's Top 10%

Lead preschool through grade 12 educational opportunities and rank in the top 10% of Minnesota school districts by 2027.

Why Do We Care?

Owatonna’s future must be able to support a growing and changing economy. Early career or vocational exposure informed by classroom programming, hands on learning and short-term work experiences will inspire all students to dream big and reach their potential.

Driver Champion:  Michelle Krell, Owatonna Public Schools

Create a 21st Century High School Facility

Create a 21st century high school facility that prepares students to be college and/or career ready.

Why Do We Care?

Coming off the approval of the recent 2015 bond referendum, a new high school will be difficult and controversial.  But it is none-the-less important.  We must be able to provide educational and vocational opportunities supported by modern technology for students.  A new high school was one of the top items discussed in the community survey.  If Owatonna strives to be the regional community of choice, we simply have to address our high school.

Driver Champion:  Jeffrey Elstad, Owatonna Public Schools

Develop a Community Information Hub to Connect All Residents

Develop a community information hub that connects all residents to local news, events, resources and services.

Why Do We Care?

It is important for all community members to feel welcome and have a sense of belonging.  Social collaboration, relationships and community engagement are key factors that help to build a stronger, healthy community.  Creating a network that enables access to community information and resources will improve the quality of life.

Driver Champion:  Edel Fernandez; Susanne Schroeder

Foster a Community-wide Culture that Encourages Civic Engagement

Foster a community-wide culture that encourages civic engagement and is inclusive, vibrant and empowering.

Why Do We Care?

Collective alignment behind a community vision and deep engagement by its community members and leaders aid in Owatonna’s success.  Fostering a constructive, inclusive approach that uncovers and empowers all generations and ethnicities to civically engage their time and talents will benefit the community.

Driver Champion:  Kim Schaufenbuel and David Berg, United Way

Construct an All-Inclusive Playground and Miracle League Field

Construct an all-inclusive playground and Miracle League Field to welcome youth and families of all abilities.

Why Do We Care?

Owatonna is a community with a diverse range of abilities.  Welcoming and respecting all abilities to learn, play and grow together is important.  Every community member, especially children should have the right to play and feel they belong, are engaged and connected.

Driver Champion:  Amanda Gislason, We All Play Owatonna

Owatonna Forward

PO Box 1116 | Owatonna, Minnesota 55060 P: 507-573-5157

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