How the Minnesota suburb transformed from an unnoticed commuter town to a vibrant place to live and work.
The suburb of Eagan, Minnesota, used to be a small off-the-radar commuter town. But after years of growth and community engagement, Eagan transformed into a thriving place to live. The City is full of abundant work opportunities, green space, new attractions, and new neighborhoods.
“Eagan is no longer a quiet bedroom community or a community people pass through to get to their final destination. We are the destination,” said Director of Communications Joe Ellickson.
Residents agree that their home is a great place to live. It’s why The City of Eagan is the recipient of two Voice of the People Awards.
The VOP Awards are the only honor based on resident feedback on The National Community Survey. The NCS measures the overall livability of a place. Questions focus on the foundations of a community that create a high quality of life, such as the economy, natural environment, affordability, and much more.
Recipients of The VOP Awards are high performers or showed dramatic improvements on The NCS from years past.
The City of Eagan received an Excellence in Natural Environment award and an Excellence in Foundations of Livability award.
Embracing and Protecting The Natural Environment
The NCS results revealed the City scored well beyond the national average for the quality of their natural environment—97 percent positive ratings. And a majority of respondents said preservation is of the utmost importance.
Around 1,200 small lakes, ponds, and wetlands pepper Eagan’s rolling hill landscape. But its urban forest of cedar, balsam fir, quaking aspen, and dozens of other species make the environment special.
Trees are part of the City’s identity, which is why the community invests in a tree dedication fund. The fund sustains the natural canopy and fights against diseases like Emerald Ash Borer in recent years. Officials also hosts an annual tree sale to encourage continual planting and maintain its reputation as a tree city.
Eagan also uses its natural beauty to enhance park and recreation opportunities. Today, there are over 50 parks in the area. The City allocated a record level of capital funding for park improvements over the past three years. That initiative supported an all-inclusive playground, a new skate park, pickleball courts, trail connections, and ADA improvements. The focus on parks and recreation is why many young families choose to live in the area. It’s also why 96 percent of residents feel positively about the parks and recreation opportunities.
The City’s emphasis on green space is just one of the many reasons why the community earned an award in overall livability. The NCS results revealed 98 percent of residents recommend Eagan as a place to live. And nine out of 10 approve of City services, the direction Eagan is heading, and overall economic health.
Today, Eagan is one of the top places in Minnesota to live and work. There are now over 2,300 corporate, commercial, retail, dining, and entertainment businesses in the City of 68,000 people. In just 20 years, the community added 20,000 jobs, making the suburb one of the largest employment centers in the state.
Eagan Twin Cities Premium Outlets
Many of those jobs are centered near the Viking Lakes area. Businesses and amenities include the Minnesota Vikings NFL team’s training facility, Twin Cities Premium Outlets, and Central Park Commons shopping center.
For residential development, Eagan added 1,400 housing units that provide a variety of living options in the past five years. The improvements laid the foundation for resident trust in policymakers. But that trust grew through community outreach in planning initiatives.
“Several years ago, we set out to determine what our residents wanted Eagan to look like in 20 years, and what we should do to ensure our future vibrancy and strength,” Ellickson said. “Through inclusive community engagement, this became the Eagan Forward initiative.”
The initiative is a future-thinking plan that envisions how to shape a healthy, innovative, creative, and connected community. Working with residents on the initiative created a set of shared expectations on what was possible. It also allowed people to take part in improving their home.
As a result, 83 percent of The NCS respondents said they trust their local government is acting in their best interest. The majority believe leaders are honest, fair, transparent, and treat residents with respect.
“They value the transparency, vision, direction, and pride in service that we take in our approach to designing our community,” Ellickson said. "This approach will maintain Eagan’s continual ratings as one of the top places to live, not just in our region, but in our nation."