Brisson getting settled in Worthington’s City Hall

WORTHINGTON -- Jason Brisson has only been here a month, but as the city's new community and economic development director, the upbeat 34-year-old is eager to tackle the major challenges that restrict the growth of Worthington.

Jason Brisson, the newest Worthington director of community and economic development. (Karl Evers-Hillstrom / The Globe)

WORTHINGTON - Jason Brisson has only been here a month, but as the city’s new community and economic development director, the upbeat 34-year-old is eager to tackle the major challenges that restrict the growth of Worthington.


Brisson was born and raised in North St. Paul. He graduated from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities with a B.A. in urban planning in 2007.


Coming out of college, Brisson worked management jobs in the private sector for nearly 10 years. In 2015, The Home Depot acquired his company Supply Works, and the timing was just right for Brisson to get off at the next stop - the public sector.



Over the last year, Brisson worked as a city planner for the Upper Minnesota Valley Regional Development Commission in Appleton, which assists 17 cities and countless towns in five western Minnesota counties.


After making contacts and gaining experience, Brisson got several offers for city planner jobs in other cities - some larger, some smaller - but Worthington was his choice.

From his perspective, Worthington represented the perfect middle ground for a city planner. In a small city, each person can make a greater impact than in a large metro.

“It’s big enough but also small enough where I can comprehensively and cohesively envision a future for this city and not just a future for a small part of it,” Brisson said.

Brisson is the city’s resident expert on complicated local laws and ordinances. Any business or individual looking for help with planning and zoning comes to him first. He administers the city’s various economic development mechanisms such as tax increment financing, loans and grants. He’s also essential in carrying out policy that furthers the city’s economic development goals.



Brisson started Oct. 18 and hit the ground running. He’s already had calls from business owners inquiring about expanding into Worthington. They’re often just testing the waters, however, as they aren’t sure they will be able to fill their positions. Business owners are hesitant because they hear from existing employers who say they cannot keep new employees because their families do not move to Worthington with them.


“So we ask them why they don’t want to come to Worthington, and the two things we always hear are ‘there isn’t enough housing’ and there isn’t enough ‘stuff to do,’” Brisson said.


Brisson is laser-focused on addressing those needs. His top priority is housing, and the city’s policymakers agree. The Worthington City Council recently appropriated $1.5 million to a new housing fund - Worthington Public Utilities will match that number in the future. The fund will attempt to spur development of single-family homes.


Brisson noted that the city is already making progress in that area with the recently constructed Grand Terrace Apartments, and several other rental housing projects are on the way.



“Between the single-family houses that allow people to leave their rental units and the new rental units, I think we’re going to see the rate stabilizing, whereas right now our price point is about the same as the Twin Cities, which is crazy because our salaries are much lower,” Brisson said.


Worthington has a diverse and growing population, which creates a challenge, but also a luxury of which most rural cities are envious. The “community” aspect of Brissen’s title is making sure the needs of the community remain a focus as the city expands.


“Most of the work has been done by the people that came before me,” Brisson said. “My job is to plan for the future of the city as it continues to grow and make sure we have a city that works for everybody, not just a certain few.”

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