Lakeville leaders look to its economic future

Three-year plan recognizes need for workforce housing

To help keep Lakeville businesses in the city and growing, local leaders are looking at its housing stock.

After years of leading the metro with single-family housing starts, Lakeville officials are focusing on building more workforce housing.

Construction of a three-story 146-unit apartment building was recently approved to be constructed near the park-and-ride off Cedar Avenue, and city officials are planning to continue working with developers to identify other sites that could become home for higher density housing.

That initiative is one of several in the draft Lakeville Economic Development Commission 2017-2020 Strategic Plan Report, released in January.

Updated every three years since the 1990s, the plan identifies the city’s highest priorities to encourage economic development: business retention and expansion, maintain a competitive edge, housing to support economic goals and workforce.

The draft report identified outcomes that included limiting loss of existing business and making the city a business’ first choice for expansion.

A need for baseline data was indicated to help track development, set future targets and measure accomplishments.

The plan identified the need for a balance of housing options to meet market demands and suggested a target of creating 250 additional higher density housing units.

It also suggested developing housing in areas that stimulate or enhance commercial development and set a target to have two sites developed.

Under “workforce,” the outcome stated in the plan was for businesses to offer more quality jobs and identified a target of 200 more jobs paying over $60,000 per year.

City Council Member Luke Hellier said there is a workforce gap, and expressed interest in the plan’s goal for pursuing possible partnerships or collaborations with the Chamber of Commerce, school districts and higher education providers.

He encouraged the city to work with schools to educate students about the career opportunities that do not require a college education.

“Whatever you can do to educate the schools that you can stay in Lakeville and have a really good job with a two-year degree from DCTC (Dakota County Technical College) is important,” Hellier said.

Community and Economic Development Director Dave Olson said the job climate has changed from several years ago, and now companies are struggling to fill jobs.

Olson said the city will review its 2012 City Business Marketing Plan to help attract new businesses, but noted city staff is limited in time and budget to focus on marketing because they are busy with new development underway.

He said several Economic Development Commission members have volunteered to help in that area, using their expertise and contracts to help attract new businesses.

Council members have in the past expressed a desire for the EDC members to have a more significant role in city initiatives, and Council Member Colleen LaBeau encouraged the members’ involvement.

The planning document identified threats and strengths regarding economic development.

Threats included high taxes, regulations and increasing land and development costs.

Strengths identified include Lakeville’s affluent community, quality education and strong area infrastructure that includes access to rail, highways and the airport.