Thursday, March 3, 2011

Building a Better Community: High Standards, Efficiency and Effectiveness are Essential

The Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce, through the support of the Bush Foundation, the Minnesota Chamber, and our Members, funded an extensive study with an eye toward improving effectiveness and efficiency of Rochester’s development and permitting process.

“If we are going to succeed in building the world’s premier destination medical community, then we must have a process that reflects not only the highest quality standards, but the best service model as well,” said John Wade, president of the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce. “This isn’t about who’s right and who’s wrong, it’s about developing the best model for service in the country.”

Rochester Chamber’s Development Services Re-design Report Leads the Way to Job Creation and Much Improved Business – Government Working Relations

By Glenn S. Dorfman, Common Sense Solutions

After the two days interviewing City development staff, owners, developers, builders, architects, and engineers, it was easy to conclude that there is an obvious and serious disconnect between the service expectations of the Development Community and the mindset of the City development staff.

The business community considers the current plan review and permitting process to be capricious, inflexible, inconsistent, time-consuming, and unnecessarily bureaucratic. The City Development Staff distrust the word of many development community representatives based upon their experience with the lack of follow-through/word-keeping in regard to agreed upon development plans or permit conditions/requirements.

Both groups raised legitimate concerns and both groups need to make changes in order to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the permitting process to save Rochester taxpayers, homeowners, homebuyers, and businesses (those who always pay the cost of inefficiency) time, money, and inconvenience while still protecting public safety, quality of life, and natural resources.

Over the past ten years, and accelerating since the deep national recession of 2007, an increasing number of jurisdictions, supported by forward looking and thoughtful Business Leaders and Local Government Officials, the construction industry, and building owners, architects, engineers, and others have recognized the importance of streamlining building and land use regulatory systems and have put in place reforms to improve efficiency and effectiveness.

The goals have often included the spectrum from increasing economic competitiveness to increasing energy conservation and disaster resiliency. Given the stubbornly high unemployment numbers, reflected in the faces of frustrated unemployed American workers, the goal of improving American economic competitiveness in a rapidly expanding world economy cannot be understated.

Government services re-design is not about regulatory abandonment, but rather it is about spending both government and private sector dollars more prudently. It is not about blame but rather improvement. This puts the Rochester Chamber and the City at the forefront of business government innovation.

An executive summary of the report can be downloaded here.

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