One of the best experiences I had while campaigning for Chanhassen City Council in 2018 was meeting countless people and hearing their unique stories.

Working in public relations I have always appreciated the power of stories. The stories of our past give us depth, the stories of our present shape our character, and the stories we wish for our future drive us.

While I heard many stories on the campaign trail of strength, experience and passion, I also heard many of struggle, frustration and dismay. Stories of small business owners in Chanhassen struggling to cut through the red tape; stories of men and women giving up space in their homes because bureaucracy got in the way of them opening up shop; stories of fee after fee suffocating dreams before they ever had a chance to come to fruition.

When it comes to economic development, it is time for Chanhassen to change its story.

I am grateful that I was not the only one to hear these stories of struggle on the campaign trail. Throughout the election season my colleagues Mayor Elise Ryan and Councilor Dan Campion heard the same types of stories and had similar ideas on how to give business owners and Chanhassen residents a different avenue for effecting change.

This is one of many reasons we supported each other’s election efforts; our passion for working harder to give a voice and power to the people. At our very first meeting in 2019 we got together to set our goals for the year, and all three of us ranked establishing an Economic Development Commission as a top priority.

When other members of council tried to block this commission from happening through an outdated and obscure ranking process that allows for two members on council to control the agenda for the year, we fought to bring it back to life. This commission was too important to let its story die on day one.

On June 10 of this year Mayor Ryan, Councilor Campion and I voted to officially establish the Economic Development Commission. This commission will create strategic plans for economic development, work to promote the city and retain businesses in the community, attract new businesses and advise the council on challenges businesses face in Chanhassen.

In order for this commission to be successful we need to hear your voices, we need to hear your stories. Your personal experiences with business in Chanhassen are powerful, and can help to shape the story of our future.

Applications are now open to be considered for a spot on this commission. Information about the EDC, application requirements and more can be found on the city’s website at

The application period closes on July 19. I sincerely hope many come forward to apply, and I look forward to continuing to hear your stories.

Julia Coleman is a Chanhassen city councilor.

Community Editor

Mark Olson, the Chaska and Chanhassen community editor who has worked in Carver County for 20 years, makes any excuse to write about local history. In his spare time, Mark enjoys perusing old books, watching blockbusters and taking Midwest road trips.