Case Study: Go Cook County Housing Initiative

Challenge: Large, countywide strategic planning initiative facilitated by Northspan identified lack of workforce housing as one of several a major economic development priorities.

Northspan’s Role: Convened a large group of stakeholders and conducted economic analysis in 2012-2013, which identified housing as one of five economic development priorities. Northspan then assisted the Cook County/Grand Marais Economic Development Authority as it took responsibility for the organization and facilitation of focus groups, informational sessions, and the creation of a thorough workforce housing survey and needs assessment in 2015. In conjunction with community partners, the EDA set targets for affordable housing creation, identified development sites, and selected a community land trust model as the most effective method for delivering and sustaining affordable workforce housing.

Results: Stakeholders engaged One Roof Community Housing to develop housing projects in Cook County, including a 16-unit apartment in Lutsen and 10 single-family homes in a community land trust in Grand Marais. Northspan remains a long-term partner of the county and has since re-engaged in order to revisit 2012 priorities and facilitate continued progress toward community goals.

References: Mary Somnis, Cook County EDA,, 218-387-3112; Jim Boyd, Cook County Chamber of Commerce,, 218-387-2079

Contact Karl Schuettler at for more information.