2017 produced impressive early returns for the Minnesota Rural Equity Project. The effort has been received warmly by audiences throughout the state, and we’re poised to turn the encouraging talk – and ideas that underlie it – into continued momentum for the project, new partnership opportunities for our organization, and real results for Minnesotans.
We’ve worked with project partners to advance smart policies and investments in human capital, infrastructure, and tax policy. We’ve spoken with credibility on the real and perceived aspects of Minnesota’s ‘rural-metro divide.’ And we’re planning to contribute significantly to constructive dialogue bridging gaps in political culture, regional differences, and attitudes toward currently divisive issues – such as immigration, climate change, and role of government.
We’ve logged many miles meeting with Minnesotans in every corner of the state, and we’ve made important connections along the way. For instance, heightened appreciation for the role Minnesota’s regional economic development organizations play has contributed to a proposal for a more regional-focused approach to community and economic development throughout the state. We’re driving this effort, and plan to contribute to creation of a ‘regional competitiveness dashboard’ tracking region-specific progress and investment over time.
Despite clear progress, our work on this and other projects is only beginning. Growth & Justice seeks to fill an important void in Minnesota’s rich domain of progressive policy and the public good – a ‘policy shop’ think tank that balances the interests of economic growth and social justice. Given the increasing effort and investment toward narrower and oftentimes competing ends from other organizations, the need for robust and respected progressive policy expertise – and action! – has never been greater.
Growth & Justice publications, ENEWS, and blogs related to the Minnesota Rural Equity Project are below.
A Shared Rural-Urban Vision: Our 2018 Legislative Priorities A stronger and more equitable Greater Minnesota will lift our entire state and our 2018 legislative priorities under the Minnesota Rural Equity Project reflect this wisdom. This week we announced support for a dozen promising investments and initiatives, each of which can help revitalize local rural economies and reduce social and racial disparities. Many of the ... Read More
An Asset Building Agenda The Minnesota Asset Building Coalition, one of our partners in the One Minnesota Rural Equity Project, have developed a practical and specific 2018 legislative agenda aimed at providing more opportunity for financially fragile Minnesotans to build their own assets, avoid debt, and climb the economic ladder. Key asks in the MABC agenda include: minimizing the burdensome fines and fees that create ... Read More
Equity and Environment as Legacy for Gov. Dayton A commentary on the cover of the Star Tribune's Feb. 11 Opinion-Exchange section makes the case that Gov. Mark Dayton's most important legacy has been moving Minnesota toward racial and economic equity while also improving the quality of our precious natural environment. Growth & Justice Senior Fellow Dane Smith explains in the article that Dayton’s credo of “A Bette... Read More
Our Voice Heard on Rural Equity Agenda in 2018 MinnPost reporter Greg Aamot, one of the most knowledgeable media observers on public policy affecting Greater Minnesota, interviewed us at length for a preview of legislative initiatives aimed at revitalizing rural regions and closing the rural-metro divide. From his recent article : “Meanwhile, a think tank that's been focused on issues related to... Read More
Candidates Address Greater Minnesota Needs Growth & Justice will be working in 2018 to influence candidates for office and the news media, toward evidence-tested public policies that foster more equitable growth and a “One Minnesota” mindset. At a recent gubernatorial candidate forum focusing on Greater Minnesota issues, we were impressed by how the sponsors (the Center for Rural Policy and Developm... Read More
A dominant narrative in mainstream and social media suggests our nation and state has lost its sense of community, that partisan and ideological rancor hopelessly divides us, from Congress to our holiday dinner tables, and that we have little interest in helping each other. A notion that a spirit of meanness pervades our rural regions is particularly prevalent, and indeed there are enough examples of bigotry and xenophobia and disregard for... Read More
Minnesota has been ahead of most other states in recognizing the importance of early childhood education, and investing up front in this priceless human capital. Currently, thanks to bi-partisan support and strong consensus among business leaders and childhood experts, Minnesota is putting hundreds of millions of dollars more into quality child-care than we were just a decade ago, through a variety of systems. Yet for all this... Read More
Justin Stofferahn is a policy specialist for the State of Minnesota and is a new Policy Fellow for Growth & Justice. His work focuses on fiscal and economic issues. He also has policy experience from his work in the offices of the Illinois Governor and Lt. Governor. Economic Concentration in Minnesota The biggest story in economic development right now is the bid to secure Amazon’s second headquarters and the estimat... Read More
Putting Things Back Together A Youth Social Entrepreneurship Case Study By Jeanne Walz, Matt Howard and Dane Smith A little more than a year ago, Ethan (last name withheld at his request) was headed in no particular direction, except perhaps toward trouble. He lacked motivation, was not doing particularly well in high school, and his scrapes with authorities worried his mother and teachers. His mom -- before signing him up for a specia... Read More
Tom Legg is a Growth & Justice Policy Fellow who has produced some of our most important research and analysis on inequality, providing global, national and local perspective. His latest commentary, reprinted here from the Ely Timberjay newspaper, offers sobering insights on worsening inequality within St. Louis County and northern Minnesota. Legg grew up in northern Minnesota and after a distinguished career at the University of Minnesota&rs... Read More