"We wanted to 'go to the source' by having the people in our region tell us which issues they believe are most critical to their communities, what they know about Northland already, and how they want us to engage with them."
-Tony Sertich, President
Late last year, the Northland Foundation administered a Community Needs Assessment, gathering input from people across northeastern Minnesota on what they believe matters most in the region right now.
Among the key takeaways from the survey results are the issues respondents identified as most important to the region. The top-ranked choices (on a scale of 1=not at all important, to 4=extremely important) were similar across age groups and counties, with some variations.
#1 Family-sustaining Jobs
#2 Affordable and Accessible Health Care
#3 Mental Health
#4 Affordable, Available, and Quality Child Care
#5 Affordable, Safe, and Quality Housing
These results also align closely with what Foundation staff and trustees heard last spring and summer in Community Listening Sessions throughout the region, where mental health, affordable housing, and access to child care emerged as top challenges.
1,350 people responded to the survey.
The 18-and-under age group had the most variation in the top community issues they identified, with Communities Welcoming and Accepting of Differences ranking #1. This age group also ranked both Public Safety and Poverty Alleviation in their top 5. The 19-to-29 year olds ranked Affordable, Available, and Quality Child Care #1 and Communities Welcoming and Accepting of Differences #5.
When ranking issues by county, Aitkin and Northern St. Louis County identified Broadband Access in the top 5. Cook County ranked Communities Welcoming and Accepting of Differences as a top 5 issue, and Lake County identified support for Older Adults as a top 5 issue.
The Board of Trustees and staff will use the data going forward to inform strategic planning and Northland's work in the region.
Tony Sertich concluded, "We really appreciate that folks made the time to take the survey and to share it with others. The response rate was excellent and the feedback is valuable."