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University, millennials collaborate for talent research in North Central, West Central Minn.

Minnesota Rising receives support from Mary J. Page Fund for UMN graduate student

Minnesota Rising logo

Founded in 2009, Minnesota Rising is a network of emerging
leaders in Minnesota.

St. Paul, Minn. (07/01/2015) - Minnesota Rising, a group of millennial generation leaders, and the University of Minnesota Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships (RSDP) are supporting a project to study how North Central and West Central Minnesota communities might better attract and retain young professionals. The project, dubbed Greater Minnesota Rising, won a grant from the Mary J. Page Community-University Partnership Fund, which is advised by RSDP, to support Humphrey School of Public Affairs student Brooke McManigal, who will research the region's assets and challenges related to workforce needs and community vitality.

"Minnesota Rising is a network of emerging leaders working to build relationships, trust, and a shared vision for the future," said Diane Tran, the organization's founder. "We're excited to partner with these communities in Greater Minnesota to help ensure shared prosperity for all Minnesotans."

Diane Tran

Diane Tran, the founder of Minnesota Rising.

The project is based on the hopeful work of University of Minnesota Extension researcher Ben Winchester, who showed that, despite a net migration of recent high school graduates from rural areas, some parts of Greater Minnesota have recently experienced a "brain gain" of people between the ages of 30-49. That work makes sense to Minnesota Rising member Chet Bodin, a state labor analyst who moved to Nisswa a year ago and helped organize Greater Minnesota Rising. "To many folks, our part of the state carries a lot of sentimental value - summer time on the lakes, family vacations, and so on," he said. "But the level of innovation and economic ingenuity is also remarkable; our region is not only a fun place to visit, but a fine area to make a life."

The project will involve communities and people in North Central (Cass, Crow Wing, Todd, Wadena, and Morrison counties) and West Central Minnesota (Clay, Becker, Wilkin, Otter Tail, Grant, Douglas, Stevens, Pope, and Traverse counties) from March to November 2015 and develop recommendations for engaging local emerging leaders and community organizations around future workforce needs, broadening of the tax base, and talent attraction in light of the area's changing demographics.

Chet Bodin

Chet Bodin, a member of the Central
RSDP Board and part of Greater
Minnesota Rising.

"The next generation of leaders in Greater Minnesota will be asked to step up in new ways -- to care for an aging population, to lead civic life, and to help their communities to transition in the new economy," said Bodin. "This project will engage emerging leaders in a space and process to unpack how we can prepare for the opportunities and challenges quickly approaching our communities."

The Greater Minnesota Rising project is the second to be supported by the Mary Page Community-University Partnership Fund, established by family and friends of former Olivia Mayor, Renville County Commissioner, and University of Minnesota Regent Mary Page (1934-2013). It is being conducted in collaboration with Raising The Bar LLC, with additional support from Central RSDP, the West Central Initiative Foundation, and the Initiative Foundation of Little Falls, MN, and UMN Community Assistance Program (CURA/CAP), which matches student researchers with Greater Minnesota communities and organizations, and administers student support.

"The Greater Minnesota Rising project is a great example of how the University can connect to vital community needs," said CRSDP Executive Director Molly Zins of Pequot Lakes. "We look forward to the project's findings for our region and what they might mean for demographic challenges throughout Greater Minnesota."

# # #

Chet Bodin, Outreach and Field Lead, Greater Minnesota Rising, 651-373-9775,
David Milavetz, Research Lead, Greater Minnesota Rising, Raising the Bar LLC, 612-770-8820,
Diane Tran, Founder, Minnesota Rising, 612-203-3295,
Molly Zins, Executive Director, CRSDP, 218-828-2332,

For more information, see the Greater Minnesota Rising project, the project application, a blog post on demographic changes by Chet Bodin posted at The Center for Small Towns (7/1/2015), the Mary Page Fund, and Ben Winchester's "Brain Gain" research.

RSDP connects communities with the resources of the University of Minnesota to drive sustainability in Greater Minnesota, and is part of University of Minnesota Extension, an equal opportunity educator and employer.

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