Two new blogposts with lessons on rural economic development have been posted on our website by Growth & Justice Policy Fellow Chuck Brown, a writer and retired manager of a rural manufacturing company who served 12 years on the Olivia City Council. In his first blog, Brown describes how farsighted local government leaders in Renville County recently built a much improved, self-sustaining hospital and two smaller clinics elsewhere in the county, with their own taxes and some federal help. Chuck’s two bottom lines: “County residents are enjoying significant advances in local health care. And second, if it wasn’t for government involvement there wouldn’t be health care in Renville County.” In the second post, “Whaling on the Prairie,” Brown traces energy history in the U.S. from whaling days through coal, petroleum, natural gas and ethanol production. He concludes that renewable electricity generation from wind and solar power, which rural Minnesota enjoys in abundance, is one of our best prospects for revitalizing Greater Minnesota.
We recommend “The Conversation” as a source for serious but also fresh and lively non-partisan public policy content. It’s a national website supported by universities in four states and which emphasizes “academic rigor and journalistic flair” as its strong points. The website recently published a series of six charts that illustrate features of the rural-urban divide, along with these four main points: poverty is higher in rural areas than in metro, most new jobs aren’t in rural areas, disability rates are higher in rural than metro, and on the upside, rural economies are surprisingly entrepreneurial and resilient, measured by small business ownership and survival rates.
“Minnesota Republicans might take a note from Indiana Republicans, who recently passed a 10-cent per gallon increase in that state’s gasoline tax to pay for road needs of about $1 billion per year, roughly the same amount Minnesota needs. Indiana Republicans, whose colleague is former governor and now Vice-president Mike Pence, actually approved an automatic inflation factor in their gas tax bill.” -- Mankato Free Press editorial, headlined “As roads deteriorate, Legislature must fix funding.”