“We want to make sure that if and when that growth hits us that we are prepared for it,” said Beth Carlson, the mayor of Lewiston.
Such micro-branding efforts have roots in what marketers call “place branding” – efforts by regions or states to create a unique sense of place.
When the Legislature begins its work Jan. 8, a battery of lobbyists for Greater Minnesota interests will be there, arguing for a variety of proposals that they believe will boost the rural economy.
About 11,000 children in southwestern Minnesota live in poverty, according to 2015 data. That’s one in six children.
Northern Community Radio, which went on the air in 1976, is an independent affiliate of National Public Radio.
The sector includes companies that make everything from massive conveyor belts to radiators and air coolers to replacement parts for machines that crush ore to special tools used by miners.
The project began with a question: How could rural grocers offer more of the fresh produce that is grown in the farm fields all around them?
“We are just scratching the surface of what’s needed in terms of rehab,” said Dale Slagter, Kandiyohi County’s housing rehabilitation manager. “There is a lot of need out here.”
Rural distilleries provide a case study in the latest thinking about econmic development in small towns, one that uses a multi-faceted approach to build economies on local strengths.
As the rural economy has evolved, so too has the University of Minnesota Extension, the public agency charged with “extending” the university’s expertise and knowledge into every corner of the state.
Since 2000, Barnesville has been attracting new residents at a steady pace, growing 18 percent to today’s population of about 2,500. Many have easy commutes to jobs in Fargo-Moorhead, just 25 miles away.
The presence of a new business along the main drag of this Sibley County town – and a high-tech one, at that – has generated some buzz in the community.
“I love this job,” Swift County Monitor-News publisher Reed Anfinson said in his office in Benson. “What I worry about is what replaces me.”
Just 6 percent of principal farm operators in Minnesota are under the age of 35, according to the most recent census data.
Bemidji benefits not only from the money BSU pumps into the local economy but also from its cultural impact, which includes plays and concerts, athletic events, workshops and speeches.
Farmers and other landowners in Chisago County have put up a dozen solar gardens, with another four now in the planning stages.
Rural priorities include the passage of another bonding bill; another increase in LGA funding; money for street repairs in small towns; broadband expansion and bolstered child care options.
“What I really hope to do is demonstrate, educate and just encourage others to take the plunge and get involved,” said Dave Smiglewski. Of the lack of civic involvement, he said: “It’s a real threat to community life.”
“Several people here have had to quit because their home-based day care closed,” said Lynda Everson, HR director for Brunswick Boat Group. “It’s a constant frustration in our employee base.”
Since the Cuyuna Lakes mountain bike trails opened, job growth in Crosby and the neighboring town of Ironton has been double that of the surrounding region. Last year, an estimated 185,000 people visited the area.