Matthew Johnson hired as Director of Planning and Community Development

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 Administration • 100 North Fifth Avenue West, Room 202 • Duluth, MN 55802

Phone: (218) 726-2450 •

Kevin Z. Gray
County Administrator




February 12, 2020

MEDIA CONTACT: Dana Kazel, Communications Manager

218-725-5049 (office) • 218-591-2219 (cell)


Matthew Johnson hired as Director of Planning and Community Development

Matthew Johnson has been hired as the new Director of St. Louis County’s Planning and Community Development Department. Johnson comes to the county after serving as the Community Development Director for the Mid-Minnesota Development Commission (MMDC) for the past 21 years.


Johnson has considerable experience working with residents, staff and elected leaders. In his role with MMDC, which serves four counties in west central Minnesota, he led numerous projects involving comprehensive land use, hazard mitigation and water plans, as well as zoning ordinances and environmental reviews. He also has a strong background working with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and survey research.


Johnson has been twice honored by the National Association of Development Organizations with its Innovation Award. He holds two master's degrees - in political science and regional planning.


"Matthew really impressed us with his tremendous experience and leadership, not to mention enthusiasm and a familiarity of the county's many planning initiatives," said County Administrator Kevin Gray. "He's a strong communicator who works to achieve collaborative solutions, and we're excited for him to bring his ideas and leadership approach to serve the citizens of St. Louis County."


"When I saw the position open, I knew this was the perfect opportunity to both expand my career and move my family to northern Minnesota," said Johnson. "I enjoy helping stakeholders find creative solutions to work together for a common good, and make it a priority to engage citizens and townships in the planning process. Finding consensus doesn't mean making everyone happy, but it does mean listening to different viewpoints to learn if there is any common ground."  


Johnson will begin working for the county on Feb. 13.


The St. Louis County Planning and Community Development Department is responsible for land use planning, zoning and land subdivision administration, on-site wastewater management, and community development in all areas where the county is the zoning authority. The department also oversees enterprise GIS planning and development. As director, Johnson will oversee a staff of 34. He replaces Barb Hayden, who retired from the position last year.



Matthew Johnson

Matthew Johnson has been hired as the St. Louis County Planning and Community Development Director. He begins the new role on February 13.