Meet Robert Barnes, New Director of Community Development


Community Development Director Robert Barnes, who is also executive director of the Crookston Housing & Economic Development Authority (CHEDA), says one of the main parts of his new job is to establish collaboration and that he is delighted to meet people and see what Crookston has to do. offer.

“We already have a few priorities with existing projects on the desktop as well as bigger priorities that we want to address, and communication and collaboration will be a big part of that,” Barnes explained. “The most important part of communication is listening and I would like to start by meeting people and listening to what they have to say, to teach me, their point of view; how does Crookston look through their eyes. “

“When we move to collaboration, then we will agree on the directions to take, we will go through the process and the budget, and as the relationship grows, those specific answers will become much clearer based on this collaboration, ”he added.

Currently, some of the top priorities on the city’s list, according to Barnes, include Epitome Energy, workforce housing, Ag Innovation Campus, and understanding the community’s business and residential needs.

“It’s still very early and I think in a year our conversation will be different,” he continued. “Communities go through cycles of growth and we need to look at what we are in, what helps us improve this cycle, what is on the horizon and what we need to do to prepare for it. It is the direction of the Town hall, the direction of CHEDA; look at what are the strengths, what do we need, what do we have, where we can best position ourselves. Sometimes it can take years; we have to accept where we are and what we’re going to do next.


Robert Barnes grew up in and around Nashville, Tennessee and attended high school at Castle Heights Military Academy. After graduating from Georgia Military College, he enlisted in the United States Army where he served for approximately 10 years. Other members of his family also have military backgrounds such as his grandfather who served in WWII, his uncle who served in the Navy and fought in Vietnam, and his nephew who is a Navy who is also went to the Naval Academy to play football.

Once he started working in economic development, Barnes said it’s been his professional life ever since, because it’s his way of thinking and what he knows, and he loves it for many reasons. , including the people he met and the projects he worked on.

Barnes has two master’s degrees, one in theology and one in municipal / public management, and says he has always been fascinated by city and county government because that is where “services are provided.”

Barnes met his wife, Laura, in Wyoming and they moved to Minnesota to be closer to their family. She is from East Grand Forks, received her doctorate from the University of North Dakota and is currently working as a rector at White Earth Tribal and Community College, he said.

Robert has two daughters and Laura has three sons, and between them they have eight grandchildren.

When asked why McIntosh, Minnesota was their landing place, Barnes said they found a beautiful piece of land they loved in the county where his wife grew up and that they loved living in. the countryside.

“The other night with the full moon, we sat outside and enjoyed it for a while,” he recalls. “It’s a chance to be able to adapt to change and accept that control is sometimes an illusion. Life is 10% of what happens and 90% of how you react to it.

“We now have a farm life,” added Barnes. “We have a garden and we are at the beginning of the agricultural relationship; we had chickens this summer and I swapped my motorbike for a tractor.

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