"Go Team" gets support from county
“Creating sustainable prosperity for all” is the motto of
a new countywide partnership of public, private and nonprofit entities
known as the “GO [Generating Opportunities] Team.” On June 19,
2012, Cook County Higher Education Business Training Coordinator Jim
Boyd and Northspan Group President and CEO Randy Lasky asked the Cook
County Board of Commissioners for $6,000 to support the GO Team’s
development of an economic development plan for the county.
This spring an initiative was launched to expand the Grand Marais
Chamber of Commerce to include businesses throughout the entire
county. According to Boyd, this “metamorphosed” into the GO Team
and a plan to hire Randy Lasky to work with county leaders to create
an economic development plan rather than pursuing the Extension
program. The team is currently comprised of about 20 public, private,
and nonprofit representatives.
According to Lasky’s proposal for professional services, the
Northspan Group is a nonprofit organization with over 25 years
providing business and community development consulting services.
According to Lasky, his job would be “to challenge and engage various
interests throughout the county and seek consensus and alignment
around a clear vision and key strategic priorities and values that
will garner broad public support and are capable of guiding economic
growth and investment.”
Lasky told the county board the project would involve talking to
business owners from all perspectives, including small, family-owned
businesses, to find out what is important to all of them. “We’re
going to go out and listen,” he said.
“Over the last decade,” Jim Boyd said, “Cook County’s business
economy has grown at less than the rate of inflation.” While the
population grew by eight people between the 2000 census and the 2010
census, “we lost young people and gained old people,” neither of
which will sustain a healthy economy, he said.
“We have to find a way to bring more young people here,” said
Commissioner Jim Johnson, adding that he has been told that a tourist-
based economy “is really not healthy.”
Commissioner Sue Hakes supported the endeavor, saying she envisions
the new as-yet-to-be-hired Cook County/Grand Marais Economic
Development Authority (EDA) director participating.
Other entities that have committed funding for this project are the
Arrowhead Regional Development Council ($11,500), the City of Grand
Marais ($3,000), the EDA ($3,000), and Arrowhead Electric Cooperative
Inc. ($3,000). As of June 19, requests were pending from area
nonprofits ($3,500) and the Grand Portage Band of Chippewa ($1,000).
The board authorized an expenditure of $6,000 toward the cost of the
project, which Northspan estimated would cost $25,000-$30,000. The
project is slated for completion in December.