The Minnesota Chapter of the American Planning Association (APA MN) is pleased to announce the 2016 Upper Midwest Regional Planners Conference, hosted by APA Minnesota in St. Cloud, MN. The conference will take place on September 28-30, 2016, at the River’s Edge Convention Center.

CONFERENCE THEME – The 2016 Conference Theme is Bridging the Gaps: Building Our Future Together. As we all know, Minnesota consistently ranks near the top when it comes to economy, education, health, and livability. Yet these outcomes and opportunities vary greatly depending on who you are and where you live. Our state and our region face some of the deepest and most persistent disparities at all levels, spanning race, income, employment, physical ability, age, gender, internet access, transportation, health, geography, education, environmental justice, housing, and food access. These inequitable gaps increasingly hinder the ability of people in certain communities to live up to their full potential. We hope to do better for all people in the Upper Midwest.

In true practice of this year’s theme of bridging gaps we are striving to increase the diversity of those in attendance. As this year’s official Upper Midwest Regional Conference, Minnesota planners welcome our neighbors from Iowa and Wisconsin to join us in St. Cloud and to share their unique experiences, perspectives, and challenges. We also welcome our interdisciplinary partners in the field – architects, developers, elected officials, engineers, public health and community advocates (to name a few.) Finally, we extend a special invitation to the planners of the future – planning students and young professionals.

The program committee is seeking a broad range of sessions covering a diversity of presentation types and planning topics. The firm deadline for the proposals to be submitted will be March 18, 2016, with no extensions. We encourage all presenters to include the theme of the conference in their sessions and in their titles. Presentations that clearly address how the theme will be discussed during the session will be given preference.

Go to the website at www.plannersconference.com for more information and for the RFP forms. If you have any questions about the forms, please contact: Raya Esmaeili at raya.esmaeili@metc.state.mn.us or Michael Palermo at mpalermo@srfconsulting.com for General Sessions and Speed Sessions. Contact Scott Mareck at smareck@wsbeng.com or Angie Stenson at stenson@stcloudapo.org for Mobile Tours.