Articles from the Center for Community Vitality's Vital Connections newsletter
To subscribe to Vital Connections, please email Joyce Hoelting
Before a community event is a success or an economic development strategy is implemented, a community meeting takes place—or more likely, a bunch of meetings. That makes leading good community meetings pretty important.
When a Walmart Supercenter opened in Winona, Minnesota in 2003, there was definitely a churning among local businesses. "Businesses get concerned," says Della Schmidt, president of the Winona Chamber of Commerce. "Some retail operations that were already struggling chose to close their businesses. But others were attracted to Winona or stayed in town because Walmart made us more of a regional center."
Minnesota's voter turnout is impressive – almost 19 percent higher than the rest of the nation's over the past decade. But, is voting all it takes to sustain a thriving democracy? A study conducted by the Bush Foundation considered deeper questions about Minnesota's civic life. They found that about half of those surveyed felt their community was strong when it comes to working on problems together.
A Ramsey County Master Gardeners (RCMG) volunteer works with kids in the Rondo neighborhood of St. Paul. RCMG volunteers participated in a ripple-effect mapping session to evaluate outcomes and build relationships.
Ripples are tiny waves generated when someone drops a stone into the water. But ripple effect mapping is generating some big waves in the world of evaluation.
Most in the Minnesota tourism industry agree there are advantages to applying sustainability practices to their business, but implementation is slowed by their perception of high costs.
The year 2013 brought improved economic news to much of Minnesota, but a few towns took some hard knocks. Town and business leaders are left asking, "What now?" while employees and their families must make critical decisions about their future.
Politicians and corporations are now realizing they may not be able to succeed unless they understand what's in the hearts and on the minds of the burgeoning Latino population in America. But this isn't news to many communities in Minnesota with growing Latino populations.
"I've always thought being a good follower is as important as being a good leader," says Holly Anderson. "They're both part of a team, and teamwork is how you get things done in a community."
“Green” and sustainable building construction, social network game development, solar panel manufacturing, Pilates and yoga studios — these are a few of the fastest growing industries across the United States in the past decade. Local food growers are working to have their day in the sun, too. And rural leaders are anxious to see how local food production might diversify and strengthen their economy — adding local producers to traditional agriculture, manufacturing, education and health care as economic drivers in Greater Minnesota.
Retail is a mainstay for Minnesota’s economy, accounting for 5.4 percent of the state’s economic output and 282,700 part-time and full-time jobs. That’s an important contribution. But look deeper. The contributions of Minnesota’s shops and retail go beyond economic success. “Minnesota’s communities need a strong retail sector,” says Matt Kane, program leader for Extension’s Community Economics programs. “Successful retail keeps communities vibrant. And the civic contributions of retailers can’t be overlooked. From supporting a local sports team to spearheading community events, retailers keep communities vital. Some also create public spaces where community conversations happen.”
Minnesota State Economist Tom Stinson is bullish on Minnesota. "Minnesota has been very successful — especially for a cold weather state at the end of the road," says Stinson, a University of Minnesota Extension economist and a professor of Applied Economics. But what about the future? "That's unclear," Stinson says. "Recent economic and demographic events have changed the outlook as far as we can see."
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To subscribe to Vital Connections, please email Joyce Hoelting.