Challenge: The Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency (AEOA), a Community Action Program designated to serve St. Louis, Lake, and Cook Counties in northeast Minnesota and providing additional service in nine neighboring counties, sought to complete a 2023-2025 strategic plan. AEOA is mandated to complete regular strategic plans and follow a Results-Oriented Management and Accountability (ROMA) model to direct its work in supporting low-income residents of the area it serves. 

Role: Northspan facilitated a strategic planning process that included background research, a thorough survey, and two strategic planning retreat days with AEOA board members and leadership staff in early 2023. Through this process, AEOA reaffirmed its mission, vision, and core values, drafted a practical vision for the strategic planning process, identified underlying contradictions that held the organization back, and established strategic directions to guide its work. The six strategic directions for 2023-2025 are: 

  1. Recruiting, training, and retaining talent 
  2. Advancing the mission through outreach and communications 
  3. Reformulating technology to meet program needs 
  4. Engaging rural communities to share needs 
  5. Seeking & accessing innovative, sustainable funding sources 
  6. Fostering Governmental Relationships to Initiate Growth Campaign 

The group then identified actions for each of the strategic directions and laid them out over a timeline to demonstrate how it will complete its work. 

Results: AEOA is now following the strategic plan, which complies with its ROMA requirements and has charted a course for the organization over the three-year period for the plan.

View the full strategic plan plus background information and details on the strategic planning process here: Strategic Plan 2023-2025. 

Reference: Scott Zahorik, AEOA Executive Director,, 218-748-7331