October 2023 Board Member Newsletter Article

Laura Stein

Nov 01 2023


Nort Johnson, President/CEO
Faribault Area Chamber of Commerce


Hello MCCE Friends!  It’s my turn in the rotation for an article in the newsletter and I thought it would be fun to brag a bit about a group of members we organized a few years ago and share some of their accomplishments. You’ll see 5 priorities which each have work groups with plans and successes. I’ve elaborated on our top ranked priority in Education and demonstrated how we’re weaving work in Daycare/Early Education into that workload.

My passion for strategic planning and work/implementation plans comes from my 11 years at The Schwan Food Company.  A Vision with Goals or Priorities used to create Strategies with work plans supported by a continuous improvement process can help make big things happen. I recommend this practice for any size organization doing any kind of work. Thanks for your time. Here’s our shortened report for September of 2023.

Faribault Chamber of Commerce
Vision Task Force Priorities 
Overview and Excellence in Education Update 9/15/2023

Vision Task Force History
In the fall of 2017, the Faribault Chamber of Commerce Board approved the formation of a committee for the purpose of advancing key priorities from the City’s Vision 2040 work. The Vision 2040 process had been largely stagnant since a large priority setting session in May of 2015. The outcomes from that public meeting included over 50 projects, ideas and policies with varying degrees of public buy-in. This list was reviewed by the Chamber of Commerce Board and narrowed to 12 items valued as most important to the business community. Those 12 were reviewed, defined, debated and ranked by the newly assigned Vision Task Force (VTF).

The top 5 Visionary Priorities in 2023 are;

  1. Excellence on Education
  2. Housing – home ownership focus
  3. Leadership Collaboration – Community and Economic Development
  4. A Fabulous Downtown
  5. Daycare and Early Education

Excellence in Education

The VTF spent considerable time researching, interviewing industry professionals and debating how we would define what Excellence in Education meant in general and then applied that definition to Faribault. This definition remains “under construction;” however, seven key points have been identified;

  1. Safety (student safety in school)
  2. Security (facility needs)
  3. Paths to Success for All Students
  4. Collaboration with Outside Resources
  5. Inclusivity
  6. Awareness- know our statistics and own them
  7. Continuous Improvement Culture

3. Paths to Success for All Students *(2018 notes)

During the process of creating this list of points, the VTF came to understand that there are some specific opportunities to enhance access for students to all careers. Faribault’s rich economic history in crafting and manufacturing continues to offer good paying jobs with advancement opportunities. Industry feedback offers us insights into the lack of basic industrial skills in students coming out of our public schools. We know that two specific actions will allow for the expanded delivery of appropriate electives and create opportunities for success especially for students not prone to attend 4-year college programs. These are:

  1. Funding and implementation of a seven-period school day
  2. Creation of a career/guidance position for pathway development with students including job shadowing, on-the-job experiences and interactive mentorships in a variety of careers in our community

*The 7 period day required passing a ballot initiative which was led by the Chamber organized team. It passed in 2019. Earlier that year another team wrote and won a grant to fund our first CTE and Workforce Coordinator in Faribault Public Schools.

3. Paths to Success for All Students (2023 notes)

Continuous Improvement
Since the successful implementation of the 7-period day and the addition of our CTE and Workforce Coordinator, there have been three more components of our priority for Paths to Success for all students showing important progress.

  1. Development and continued implementation of college and industry credentialed classes in Faribault Public Schools. In Partnership with Industry, South Central College and Faribault Public Schools, the new H2C umbrella is bringing Health Sciences as well as Mechanical/Engineering and Construction (MEC) trades classes to students starting in grade 9. Most of the college level classes are accredited at all MNSCU system institutions. An example of an Industry Credentialed class is a SNAP-ON Tools class where a student can earn up to 6 certifications in the use of measuring tools.
  2. A partnership with the Chamber Trust and Faribault Public Schools (with contracted services from the Healthy Community Initiative) has just finished our first year of building out our Data-Based Cradle to Career (Strive Together) framework. We’re successfully facilitating $250K in State and Federal grant dollars. Working directly with the grant administrators at the State/Federal level, we were allowed to pivot to not only contract with HCI, but it allowed for more dollars to go towards/in specific benchmark areas, which now align with FPS Benchmarks and “Worlds Best Workforce” goals.
  3. We have woven our #5 VTF Priority (Daycare and Early Education) into our Cradle to Career work and are currently working with community leadership and the Southern Minnesota Initiative foundation on solutions to meet the critical need of business for daycare and the equally critical need for expanded early education. Data shows us that the best performing early grade students have attended preschool. Our biggest opportunity lies with providing that same early education for our students in poverty – regardless of their family cultural background. Our stated goal is to provide a 24/7 network of providers for 100 young students as soon as possible. To that end our workgroup is searching out agile real estate options and is in the process of developing the best local business model to meet that goal.

Thanks again for your time and for the meaningful work you do in your communities. As Chamber Executives we have a unique position from which to organize resources to accomplish goals. This process works – if you work the process.