City welcomes award in sober economic climateNational magazine BusinessWeek named Woodbury as the best place to raise children in Minnesota. Community development director Dwight Picha shared that news with the Woodbury Chamber of Commerce Friday, Nov. 20 at the annual "State of the City" address.
By: Scott Wente, Woodbury Bulletin
Suffering from the economic downturn like most other cities in the region, Woodbury earned a bit of positive news last week: It’s good for kids.
National magazine BusinessWeek named Woodbury as the best place to raise children in Minnesota. The magazine looked at factors important to parents: affordability, safety, school test scores and job growth.
Area industry, the city’s parks and trails and its schools, including the Math and Science Academy, got a plug in the BusinessWeek blurb.
“We’re really proud of that,” the city’s community development director Dwight Picha told the Woodbury Chamber of Commerce in announcing the award in a “State of the City” address Nov. 20.
Woodbury business officials said such recognition can help to draw people and jobs to the area.
“The fact that we’re No. 1 can’t hurt,” Woodbury Chamber of Commerce president Greg Watson said.
The magazine considered cities with at least 45,000 people and a median income of $40,000 to $125,000. Rochester and Eagan were Minnesota’s runners-up.
Woodbury earned the distinction amid mixed economic and development news.
The city is on pace to exceed 400 property foreclosures in 2009. There were 376 sheriff’s sales through October, including 255 single-family homes and townhomes.
“We’re concerned about that going into the future,” Picha said.
The foreclosure number is growing as property values dip. The market value of all property in Woodbury is expected to decline in 2010 for the first time in at least 10 years – from $7.35 billion to $7.29 billion.
Residential development still is a depressed sector. The city has recorded 222 new housing units so far this year, down from nearly 1,000 four years ago.
Still, the long-term prospects are promising, Picha said. The city of an estimated 58,566 is expected to continue growing and plans for some 84,000 people by 2030. And national builders say they will target Woodbury and Maple Grove, northwest of Minneapolis, for new housing when the economy improves.
With good schools, strong businesses and attractive amenities, Woodbury will continue to draw families, Picha said.
“We still have significant interest in Woodbury and think the outlook is very positive,” he said.
While BusinessWeek gave Woodbury the recognition, the magazine might be confused about where the suburb is located: A image that accompanies the Woodbury entry on BusinessWeek’s Web site features eight youths pictured in front of a Minneapolis skyline.