Josh Olson

Josh Olson

MURP 2006

Deputy Director - Community and Economic Development

Ramsey County

Saint Paul, MN

What have you been up to since you finished the MURP program? 

After graduation from CU-Denver, I spent a couple years working as a planner in the Community Development Department of Douglas County. Douglas County was a great environment to learn and find the areas of planning that I was passionate about.

I moved to Minnesota in 2008 and for the past 7+ years I’ve been advancing transit and redevelopment projects for Ramsey County in Saint Paul, Minnesota. I’ve spent the majority of that time working on transit projects, including the opening of the Green Line LRT, the A-Line arterial BRT corridor, and the restoration of the historic Saint Paul Union Depot into a modern multimodal facility

Last year, I transitioned into a leadership role in the County-led redevelopment of Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant (TCAAP). TCAAP is one of the last and largest undeveloped properties in the Twin Cities. It also happens to be Minnesota’s largest Superfund site.  With environmental remediation complete, TCAAP set to become a walkable, mixed-use and net-zero community.

*** Note: Since this interview, Josh has since become the Deputy Director - Community and Economic Development for Ramsey County. 

What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishments?

I’ve been blessed to have worked on several large projects—carving a professional niche in publicly-led projects. The renovation of Union Depot in downtown Saint Paul has to be the most memorable accomplishment.  I had the opportunity to lead the economic development strategy and be involved in design decisions through the renovation. I also led weekly tours of the building before, during and after restoration. These tours often provided me with some of most rewarding moments. It is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day work but to learn of deep connections people hold for this special place was truly memorable.

What would you say to a prospective student that is considering CU Denver’s MURP program?

CU Denver's Master of Urban and Regional Planning was a great program for me. While I was a Colorado native, I strongly considered other programs around the country. I felt at the time and believe to be true now, that CU Denver’s location and its faculty were its best assets. Faculty cultivated creativity and critical thought through issues and community challenges happening in real-time.