Region 5: Who are they and what do they do?

By Dawn Espe

Guest Columnist


In 1969, Minnesota passed legislation that established regional development commissions. the Legislature believed that issues of economic and community development often transcend local government boundary lines and that common solutions to local problems could be found by pooling resources through inter-governmental cooperation.

It is in that spirit that the Region Five Development Commission (R5DC) was formed in 1973, by local units of government in Wadena, Todd, Morrison, Crow Wing and Cass counties.

The work of the Region Five Development Commission (R5DC) staff is guided by a commission made up of 25 members. Members include five county commissioners (one per county), five municipality representatives from cities with a population under 10,000 (one per county), one municipality representative from cities with a population of 10,000-plus, five township board members (one per county), two school board representatives, one Council of Governments representative, one Leech Lake Tribal Council representative, one emerging leader, one higher education representative, one workforce development representative, one Camp Ripley representative and one Soil and Water Conservation District representative.

R5DC provides high quality professional planning, development assistance, and other services through collaboration and coordination with local units of government, organizations and citizens. The ultimate objective of the R5DC is to enhance the vitality and quality of life in the five-county region. The commission has directed R5DC to develop core programs.

These core programs include economic development through a (federally designated} grantee/business revolving loan fund administrator and low-interest funding for septic and well water systems, community development (placemaking, community comprehensive planning and technical assistance), and transportation initiatives (liaison between local governments and MnDOT). Special projects and grant writing are also included in the menu of services.

In addition, R5DC supports initiatives that focus on local foods, solar for schools and broadband.

Stay tuned for future guest columns to learn more about the work of R5DC. For more information, visit


                Dawn Espe is the regional development planner for the Region Five Development Commission.