Case Study: East Range Joint Powers Board

Laying Foundations for Growth on the East Range

Challenge: Longtime staff person for an economic development partnership between Aurora, Biwabik, Hoyt Lakes, and Town of White retired.

Northspan’s Role: Provides staffing services using its five-person team to broaden ERJPB’s capacity and address a series of community challenges. Priorities include:

Results: ERJPB board members have expressed satisfaction with Northspan’s work to re-engage stakeholders and develop a cohesive plan for the organization. The plan has allowed ERJPB to leverage additional funding from stakeholders such as IRRR and the Blandin Broadband Communities program to further support economic development on the East Range and guarantee funding to complete the full scope of work. Monthly reports allow the ERJPB board to assess progress to date and engage in conversations about the priorities and potential solutions to pressing issues.

Northspan had a long track record of work in the East Range area that includes facilitation of Community Advisory Panels sponsored by Minnesota Power and PolyMet; work on the Laskin Energy Park team, which is now moving to certify the site as Shovel Ready with the state of Minnesota; and facilitation numerous smaller-scale community conversations and planning processes. Because of these established relationships, Northspan jumped straight into several ongoing regional initiatives on the East Range, including efforts to boost broadband connectivity and expand child care options. Early in the relationship, Northspan conducted priority-setting sessions with each of the East Range communities’ city councils and the White Township board, which it used to guide a broader strategic direction for the region. Northspan compiled results from these stakeholders and used them to build a strategic action plan for its work over the course of the year. Northspan reports on its progress on each of these strategic initiatives at monthly board meetings.

Reference: Jim Weikum, Mayor of Biwabik and ERJPB Member,

Contact Karl Schuettler at for more information.