Cook County


Cook County, MN, is a legacy community due to its location and the makeup of citizens who live and work in Grand Marais, Lutsen Township, Schroeder Township, and Tofte Township. It is the most easterly located county in Minnesota and has a rich history of early Ojibwe inhabitants and the influence of French fur traders who settled in the area. It is a rugged, densely wooded triangular land that borders Canada and is surrounded by the northern end of the Great Lakes.

The population growth rate surged by 3.31% amid the COVID-19 years and is currently maintaining growth of approximately 1.5% in 2024, with projections remaining consistent through 2029. This underscores the importance of comprehensively grasping future requirements, proposed solutions, and project costs and conducting cost-benefit analyses for the suggested options.  Decision-making on capital budgets in the past was driven by using the lowest-low-bid approach, which resulted in the use of inferior materials and equipment and poor installation practices, leading to high operating costs and ongoing maintenance needs.

Services Provided
Performance Architecture
Facility & Site Asset Management
Building Science
Client Quotes

We first became introduced to CR-BPS in connection with a request for proposal (RFP) for assistance to evaluate building envelope issues related to our county YMCA building. CR-BPS was not the “low cost” proposal but rose to the top of the list upon detailed review of the thoroughness of their approach and process. CR-BPS was determined to be “best value” and ultimately selected. It was the right decision and a good experience.”

James Joerke, Cook County Administrator


Transparent, inclusive, and defendable facility-site asset management services were needed to help fix the ongoing building problems and establish the informed consent necessary to strategize improvements in the short and long term.

Clearly defined options and recommendations for future capital project planning and for urgent fixes needed to their YMCA building were skills that Cook County staff did not have in-house.

With past projects as sore spots for how difficult it was to work with outside consultants, Cook County needed a proven, unbiased, trusted advisor to help them.

Client Quotes

In our county people take their public involvement seriously and like to get in the weeds and details. CR-BPS's step by step process, detailed presentation materials and presentation skills were helpful tools that allowed the public involvement to present and discuss facility objectives at a high policy level. The CR-BPS assisted public involvement effort, demonstrate we were creating a decision-making tool and not a list of work orders.”

James Joerke, Cook County Administrator


We demonstrated our dedication to prioritizing the county’s needs by establishing trust through our efforts in evaluating and addressing the building envelope and pressurization issues at the county YMCA building.  We clarified that when performing facility-site asset management predesign services, we would not seek the follow-up extensive design services needed to complete future asset capital projects. We felt it created a conflict of interest, breaching the trust we want to establish with our clients.

Throughout our work with the county, we kept the understanding of the need to assess more than one performance metric to understand the needs fully.

To accomplish this, we knew the following six critical criteria are needed to assess the overall interdependent attributes impacting their building and sites.

  • Facility-Site Conditions
  • Sustainability
  • Facility-Site Functionality
  • Human Experience
  • Resiliency and Adaptation
  • Other Drivers

We started by meticulously gathering extensive information and performance data for all county facilities and sites, providing the foundation of accurate data necessary for effective planning.

We endeavored to establish ourselves as respected team members (an extension of the staff), contributing our expertise and fostering collaboration with the community. Two public involvement events were conducted throughout the data collection process to accept feedback from the community openly.

Additionally, we were specifically sought out to offer our Building Science proficiency, aiding the county in resolving performance issues associated with specific assets. Our alignment with the county’s philosophy underscores the belief that asset management and facility performance are ongoing processes rather than mere products. This shared perspective has been instrumental in maintaining our ongoing contracted work with the county as we consistently strive to surpass project requirements and exceed the county’s expectations.


Client Quotes

We have a very high trust relationship in CR-BPS. Going forward we hope to make CR-BPS a valued resource in our ongoing planning, implementation and maintenance and processes. We expect to continue to build trust with Chad Rykal and his team, and expect them to weigh-in and to be involved in decisions evaluating the direction to go. We have just signed a continuing services contract with CR-BPS to assist us in numerous ways including updating our VFA facility assessment tool on an ongoing basis.”

James Joerke, Cook County Administrator


The CR-BPS team played a crucial role in resolving the challenges faced by Cook County. Our detailed data has allowed them to develop a comprehensive evaluation approach for all their buildings and sites, enabling the creation of feasible and actionable capital improvement plans. Our extensive efforts have assessed over 26 county facilities spanning eight individual sites, totaling an estimated 185,386 square feet.

This effort included space needs and a conceptual design effort for the Courthouse and Law Enforcement Center. This was critical in determining the type and general size layout for these buildings, which were cued up as the assets that needed the most attention in the near future.

We also successfully helped address their concerns by implementing a comprehensive approach to tackle the challenges faced by the staff.   We began by engaging decision-makers and advisory groups, emphasizing the necessity of budget increases to maintain and operate the county’s valuable buildings and sites.

Additionally, we established a rapid response system to promptly address public inquiries, especially during crises like the COVID-19 pandemic, societal stressors, or environmental disasters. This proactive communication strategy enhanced public trust and confidence in the county’s capabilities and gave their staff the information they needed to respond to their citizens.

Client Quotes

I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend CR-BPS to any potential client. I would be happy to be asked to be a CR-BPS reference. CR-BPS can count on it.”

James Joerke, Cook County Administrator

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