At a time when many Minnesota regions are growing slowly, or projected to lose population in the future, expansion is something that sets Central Minnesota apart.
MinnPost’s coverage of economic vitality in Greater Minnesota explores the economic issues, and opportunities, that affect the region — examining the role that government, nonprofits, businesses, community leaders and individuals can play in addressing them.
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.
Considering Minnesota’s regions separately reveals different challenges — and suggests different solutions.
There are thousands of acres of farmland across Minnesota, but there is little room for young people who want to make a living on the farm.
Broadband is critical to the fate of Greater Minnesota. But the people who can make a difference, from providers to politicians, don’t even agree on the problem, much less the solution.
“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.
Southwest Minnesota represents the “canary in the coal mine” when it comes to the state’s looming economic and workforce issues, offering a sneak peak at the challenges — and opportunies — for communities throughout Greater Minnesota.