Technology a key in government innovation

Grand Rapids was recently featured in a story on Minnesota Public Radio highlighting their progress towards less money, more innovation. Grand Rapids (home to the Blandin Foundation) has done a good job of keeping government costs low as their budget has changed. They’ve done interesting things with insurance and even HR, encouraging retirements over layoffs – but  the technology fixes really caught my eye…

It’s [the city government] switched to electronic time cards and payroll management. A software program called Cityworks keeps track of potholes that need to be filled and other public works tasks.

And rather than printing hundreds of pages of information before each city council meeting, clerks and council members check into an online system called Legistar.

The results…

What used to take a day now takes about an hour.

“It saves us a half a person,” he says. “We’re shifting the paradigm a bit.”

What helped make it possible?

It helps that the staff and citizens in Grand Rapids, a city of around 10,000, are tech savvy, with fiber optic cable running to each and every doorstep.

Having neighbors such as the Blanidn Foundation makes Grand Rapids unique. Maybe it helps them risk innovation – but now that the results are in, other communities might be able to also face the risk with a greater comfort level. Grand Rapids are leaders in a trend that can save us time and money down the road.

This entry was posted in Blandin Foundation, Government, MN, Rural by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (, hosts a radio show on MN music (, supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota ( and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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