Strategic Plan

Strategic plan 2021-2024

Mayor's letter to the community

To our Northfield community,

Yogi Berra said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you won’t get there.”

I am pleased to present to you our City of Northfield 2021-2024 Strategic Plan. Thank you to the City Council, city staff and the many others that thoughtfully contributed to the development of the plan.

This is our second multi-year strategic plan as a community. As we worked through the completion of our first, we saw the benefits of having a multi-year roadmap that keeps us focused on where we want to go.

The more that we are aligned as a community, City Council, boards and commissions, and city staff, the greater the likelihood we will arrive at our destination. And ultimately accomplish our purpose as stated in our City Charter, “to promote and protect the health, safety, morals, comfort, convenience, and welfare of the inhabitants of the city….”

I am committed to encouraging civil discourse and civic engagement by and for all. When we bring our community together to build relationships, celebrate our accomplishments, and honor people, we build positive momentum that can help us accomplish our goals.

I hope you’ll join me in working together to find common ground to move our community forward. It’s one more step in building a better, stronger community for today...and tomorrow.


Rhonda Pownell, mayor of Northfield

Parts of the plan

The plan consists of six strategic priorities— the issues of greatest importance to the City of Northfield over these three years. Associated with each priority is a set of desired outcomes, key outcome indicators, and performance targets, describing expected results and how the results will be measured. The plan also includes strategic initiatives that will be undertaken to achieve the targeted outcomes.

Economic vitality

An community that's economic thriving

Desired outcomeKey outcome indicatorTarget

Expansion of commercial industrial tax base consistent with guide plans

  • Commercial/industrial permit value increase
  • # of new infill inventory
  • Commercial and industrial permit value increased by $50 million by 2024
  • More than 50% of new commercial or industrial developed on infill sites by 2024

Successful local business recovery

  • # new business starts
  • $ sales tax growth
  • Job growth above 2019
  • New business starts increased by (TBD) 2021-24
  • Increase in sales tax revenue by 10% 2021-24
  • Total jobs above 2019 base increased by (TBD) by 2024

Successful tourism recovery
  • Lodging tax growth
  • Plan completion %
  • # new events

  • More than 60% of Riverfront sequence chart actions completed by 2024
  • Lodging tax revenue increased by 10% 2019 to 2024
  • Recreation/tourism events increased by (TBD) 2021-24

Strategic initiatives

  • Implement economic stabilization, recovery and growth strategy
  • Implement infill and redevelopment strategies
  • Implement Tourism recovery strategy
  • Implement Riverfront Enhancement Plan

Housing availability

A community where everyone can afford to live

Desired outcomeKey outcome indicatorTarget

Increased availability of housing at all levels

  • # of units added above need
  • Vacancy rate for rentals increased to 6% 2021-24
  • Meet/exceed 2021 housing study supply needs by 2024

Increased affordability for cost burdened households

  • % decrease in cost burdened households
  • Reduce by 5% renters that are cost burdened 2021-24
  • Reduce by 5% of owners that are cost burdened 2021-24

Improved housing quality throughout the city

  • % of non-compliant rental properties
  • # properties stabilized
  • Establish compliance baseline-all licensed rental properties by 2024
  • 90%  or more compliance of rental properties by 2024
  • Assist 12 senior households to facilitate aging in place 2021-24

Strategic initiatives

  • Implement rental housing strategy
  • Implement housing stabilization program
  • Implement a housing expansion strategy

Quality facilities

A community where infrastructure supports its objectives

Desired outcomeKey outcome indicatorTarget

Park, recreation and trails exceed community expectations

  • % facilities satisfactory
  • % of gaps addressed
  • condition rating change

  • All park and recreation facilities judged satisfactory or above 2021-24
  • 50% of high priority walking and biking system gaps addressed by 2024

Resolution of major facility projects

  • # decisions made by deadline
  • By 2024, Go/No Go decisions: Ice Arena; NCRC/Fifty North remodel and expansion; Liquor Store

High speed internet access available to all

  • # without provider access
  • % public places w/o free Wi-Fi

  • High-speed fiber provider access – all properties by 2023
  • Free high-speed Wi-Fi in public places by 2024

Strategic initiatives

  • Implement Park & Recreation Capital Investment Plan
  • Implement coordinated major facilities strategy
  • Implement integrated highspeed internet program

Diversity, equity and inclusion

A community that welcomes everyone

Desired outcomeKey outcome indicatorTarget

Staff and volunteers reflect the community

  • % increase in racial diversity: staff, volunteers
  • 50% increase in racial diversity of City workforce, boards and commissions by 2024

Improved access to city services for all demographics

  • % improvement in access target groups
  • Meet access goals for two targeted groups by 2024

City is a community leader on diversity, equity and inclusion

  • Race equity action plan targets achieved
  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Leadership Collaboration goals met yearly 2021-24

Strategic initiatives

  • Implement Board and Commission diversity strategy
  • Continue implementation of Racial Equity Action Plan

Service excellence

A community with a government that works

Desired outcomeKey outcome indicatorTarget

Adequate staff to meet demands

  • # projects delayed
  • % service-level staffing ratios not met

  • Staffing/resources reconciled to meet staffing and service demands-two services by 2024

Improved board-staff effectiveness

  • % aligned with strategic plan
  • % rating good or above

  • More than 75% rate working relations good or excellent by 2024
  • 90% of board activities align with strategic plan by 2024

Improved service delivery
  • % improvement in community satisfaction; cycle/response times
  • Satisfaction in two targeted services increased by 10% by 2024
  • More than 80% indicate well informed regarding City issues by 2024
  • 90% of targeted improvements achieved by 2024

Strategic initiatives

  • Conduct annual department analyses
  • Deploy Board & Commission Governance effectiveness program
  • Implement a service excellence program
  • Complete updated comprehensive plan

Climate Action

A community that's resilient and sustainable

Desired outcomeKey outcome indicatorTarget

Climate resilience is a priority in plans and budgets

  • # climate actions in City plans
  • # climate actions funded
  • Emerald Ash Borer plan funded and implemented by 2024
  • Climate resilience standards incorporated into annual budget process and planning decisions by 2024

Reduced net carbon emissions

  • % reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions
  • increase-renewable energy use
  • City renewable electricity is 60% of usage by 2024
  • City carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions reduced 20% from 2019 levels by 2024

Community participation in Climate Action

  • % increase in people implementing actions
  • 20% increase in people participating in defined activities by 2024

Strategic initiatives

  • Implement Climate Action Plan

Assessing the environment, identifying challenges

An important part of the strategic planning process is a review of the current operating environment and an evaluation of the challenges confronting the community. This was done via a SWOT analysis—a process that examines the organization’s internal strengths and weaknesses, as well as the opportunities and threats in the external environment.

The SWOT analysis asks the following questions:

  • What are the city’s greatest strengths?
  • What are the city’s greatest weaknesses?
  • What are the greatest opportunities for the city?
  • What are the greatest threats to the city?
  • What are the three greatest challenges for the city over the next 3 years?


  • Experienced, competent staff: skilled, experienced, thoughtful, tenured, responsive and competent staff
  • Great leadership: good, committed, diverse, engaged, smart elected leadership
  • Involved community: engaged, educated, vibrant, strong community


  • Staff capacity: limited staff, under-staffed
  • Condition of facilities: outdated, underdeveloped, poor condition, lack of upkeep in facilities
  • Tax or tax base: reduce tax burden, unequal tax base
  • Goals or plans: specific goals, strategic goals, climate goals


  • Development: economic, residential, commercial, industrial
  • Growth: community growth, tax-base growth, housing and job growth
  • Plans and collaboration: race equity, climate, Riverfront, other groups and communities


  • Lack of housing: available, affordable housing lack
  • Pandemic: unknown economics as a result of the pandemic
  • Mistrust of government: mistrust, lack of connection and transparency

More information

View the city's vision, mission, values

Download the Northfield Strategic Plan 2021-2024 (PDF)

Download the Northfield Strategic Plan 2018-2020 (PDF)

Download the Northfield Strategic Plan Summary 2018-2020 (PDF)