Regional Development Commissions

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Regional Development Commissions are regional governments in Minnesota made up of a board of local elected officials from counties, cities, schools boards, public interest groups and transit systems that provide cooperation and coordination on broad regional issues.[1] The Regional Development Commissions, commonly abbreviated as RDC, were established by state law in 1969 to provide a variety of governmental assistance to local governments.[2] They are a type of regional planning organization that have responsibility to provide technical assistance to a broad multi-county area of the state, and their functions are similar to the metropolitan planning organization in urbanized areas. As their intent was to support local governments, they frequently provide a coordinating role and generally do not exercise any type of binding authority over local matters.


As part of the Governorship of Harold LaVander, economic development became a significant policy directive with a strong desire to drive new businesses and focus on the needs of rural areas outside of metropolitan planning areas. During this time, the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Commerce provided funding for economic development agencies across the United States. In response to this, the state legislature created an act for the development of regional development commissions in areas where existing planning organizations did not exist.[3][4] Each area of the state was given time to offer their local support to be included in one or more regions. Each local government had to petition for the creation or inclusion in an RDC. The Arrowhead Region was the first to formally organize and be certified. Other areas soon followed.[5] Over the years internal fighting between some areas of the state and anti-government sentiment led to the dissolution of some regional development commissions. These included Region 4 in western Minnesota, Region 7W near the center of the state and Region 10 which consisted of the 11 county area in southeastern Minnesota.[6]

Over the years there has been significant interest in developing new regional development commission in southeastern Minnesota as the lack of an RDC leaves local governments at a competitive disadvantage compared to areas that do have them or that have an MPO.[7][8] In response to this the area in Region 4 designated the non-profit organization West Central Initiative to become their de facto Regional Development Organization in 1984 and it was designated as a federal development agency in 1985 for the same area.[9]


Common functions and services include urban planning, transportation planning, economic development assistance, emergency management coordination, training, outreach, community organizing and others. However, the RDCs work with a wide variety of functions and each may offer additional services based on the types of needs in the region. For example, all of the RDCs are designated by the United States Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration as Economic Development Districts. As a result, they can accept and offer federal grants and economic development loans to local governments and businesses.[10] Others include within the organization the federally designated Area Agency on Aging that focuses on the health and well being needs of the elderly in the region.[11]

Some of the transportation planning functions are handled by other organizations in areas where an RDC does not exist. For example, State Laws specifically request that the Minnesota Department of Transportation provide transportation planning for areas not covered by an RDC or MPO.[12][13] In the Twin Cities Metropolitan area, the Metropolitan Council provides transportation planning at the regional level.[14]

List of Minnesota Regional Development Commissions[edit]

List of RDCs[1]
RDC Name RDC Number Headquarters City Designation Year Counties
Northwest Regional Development Commission 1 Warren, MN 1973 Kittson, Marshall, Norman, Pennington, Polk, Red Lake, Roseau
Headwaters Development Commission 2 Bemidji, MN 1971 Beltrami, Clearwater, Hubbard, Lake of the Woods, Mahnomen
Arrowhead Regional Development Commission 3 Duluth, MN 1969 Aitkin, Carlton, Cook, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake, St. Louis
West Central Initiative 4 Fergus Falls, MN 1985 Becker, Clay, Douglas, Grant, Otter Tail, Pope, Stevens, Traverse, Wilkin
Region Five Development Commission 5 Staples, MN 1973 Cass, Crow Wing, Morrison, Todd, Wadena
Upper Minnesota Valley Regional Development Commission 6W Appleton, MN 1973 Chippewa, Big Stone, Yellow Medicine, Lac qui Parle, Big Stone, Swift
Mid-Minnesota Development Commission 6E Wilmar, MN 1973 Kandiyohi, McLeod, Meeker, and Renville
West Central Development Commission (Dissolved in 1982) 7W Saint Cloud, MN 1973 Kittson, Marshall, Norman, Pennington, Polk, Red Lake, Roseau
East-Central Development Commission 7E Mora, MN 1973 Chisago, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, Pine
Southwest Regional Development Commission 8 Slayton, MN 1973 Cottonowood, Jackson, Lincoln, Lyon, Murray, Nobles, Pipestone, Redwood, Rock
Region Nine Regional Development Commission 9 Mankato, MN 1972 Blue Earth, Brown, Faribault, Le Sueur, Martin, Nicolett, Sibley, Waseca, Watonwan
Southeast Minnesota Regional Development Commission (Non-RDC Area Dissolved in 1982) 10 Rochester, MN 1973 Dodge, Fillmore, Freeborn, Goodhue, Houston, Mower, Olmsted, Rice, Steele, Wabasha, Winona
Metropolitan Council (Non-RDC Area, de facto) 11 Saint Paul, MN 1967 Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott, Washington

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT COMMISSIONS" (PDF). Local Government Laws. Minnesota Secretary of State. Retrieved 22 December 2017.
  2. ^ "Minnesota Broadband Vision Endorsements". Blandin Foundation. Blandin Foundation. Retrieved 22 December 2017.
  3. ^ Laws of Minnesota 1969: Chapter 1122 (1 ed.). Saint Paul, Minnesota: Minnesota State Legislative Library. May 1, 1969. pp. 33–44.
  4. ^ Regional Planning and Development in Minnesota: A Handbook on Executive Order No.37 and the Regional Development Act of 1969 (Minnesota Legislative Reference Library) (1 ed.). Saint Paul, Minnesota: Minnesota State Planning Agency. July 1, 1969. pp. 2–12, 34. Retrieved 22 December 2017.
  5. ^ Regional Planning and Development in Minnesota: A Handbook on Executive Order No.37 and the Regional Development Act of 1969 (Minnesota Legislative Reference Library) (1 ed.). Saint Paul, Minnesota: Minnesota State Planning Agency. July 1, 1969. pp. 2–12, 34. {{cite book}}: |format= requires |url= (help)
  6. ^ "SOUTHEASTERN MINNESOTA REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION An Inventory of Its Records" (PDF). Minnesota Historical Society Archives. Minnesota Historical Society. Retrieved 22 December 2017.
  7. ^ "SE MN Regional Economic Development Study Proposal (HF3637/SF3379)" (PDF). Minnesota Senate Draft Legislation. Minnesota Senate. Retrieved 22 December 2017.
  8. ^ "Goodhue County Board Draft Resolution of support". Goodhue County. Goodhue County, Minnesota. Retrieved 22 December 2017.
  9. ^ "Who We Area: Timeline". West Central Initiative. West Central Initiative. Retrieved 22 December 2017.
  10. ^ "About Regional Development Commissions". Minnesota Association of Development Organizations. Minnesota Association of Development Organizations. Retrieved 22 December 2017.
  11. ^ "Arrowhead Area Agency on Aging: A Division of Arrowhead Regional Development Commission". Arrowhead Area Agency on Aging. Arrowhead Area Agency on Aging. Retrieved 22 December 2017.
  12. ^ "Regional Development Commissions". Transportation Planning Partners. Minnesota Department of Transportation. Retrieved 22 December 2017.
  13. ^ "Transportation Policy Board". Region 7W. Minnesota Department of Transportation. Retrieved 22 December 2017.
  14. ^ "TRANSPORTATION PLANNING PROCESS". Transportation section. Metropolitan Council. Retrieved 22 December 2017.

External links[edit]