Registration is now open for our signature event of 2018, a statewide convening June 27-29 in the historic and scenic western Minnesota town of Granite Falls. Participants in this event will help us create a unifying “One Minnesota Equity Blueprint,’’ a new social contract that helps address all our damaging divisions: the rural-metro divide, racial disparities, and overall economic inequality. Registration options include participating as an official delegate in the six-month blueprint development, or as a general participant in the Granite Falls kick-off gathering. More information on the gathering, entitled “Thriving by Design, Rural & Urban Together,” is available on our website. Our partner in this event is OneMN.org, an organization focused statewide on building our “ethnic capital” and working toward racial equity in business and economic development. Their motto -- “Building Shared Sustainable Prosperity’’ -- resonates strongly with our own mission statement.
Chuck Denny is a retired CEO of ADC Telecommunications, a longtime supporter of Growth & Justice, and one of Minnesota’s wisest voices on the importance of business commitment to a more equitable prosperity. His recent Star Tribune Op-Ed, on what went wrong at Wells Fargo, offers a superbly balanced view of the proper role of our public and private sectors. Denny wrote: “The public good transcends the rights of individuals and firms to seek profit without regard to societal consequences. Democratic capitalism is based on a balance of the rights of society with sufficient, but not unlimited, freedom for market capitalism to flourish. Implicit in the granting by the state to corporations of special powers and privileges is the understanding that a corporation shall do no harm — to the users of its products and services; to its employees; to our common environment; and to the communities in which it lives and works. No individual, firm or industry can be permitted to put the nation's well-being at risk.’’ We also recommend this essay in 2015 by Denny from admonishing business leaders to repair our social contract.
To the eternal quandary about how to keep or attract talented young people to rural communities, here’s at least a partial answer. A recent article in The Daily Yonder, “When It Comes to Broadband, Millennials Vote With Their Feet,’’ offers compelling evidence for investment in rural connectivity as a youth magnet. The article cites extensive research showing how rural counties with better high-speed internet access, or with a low “digital divide index, ’’ are actually growing their Millennial population, while those with a higher digital divide continue to lose younger folks. The authors conclude: “The real question is whether a rural decline is inevitable or if the digital economy has characteristics that are already starting to write a different story for rural America. We have recently completed research that suggests (the latter).’’
Growth & Justice President Jane Leonard earlier this week was a featured presenter and panelist at a state capitol convening of the Main Street Alliance, a coalition of small business owners who delivered the message that more tax cuts are not a top priority for many small enterprises. Alliance leaders estimated that only about 8 percent of businesses will benefit from a House tax-cut proposal, and instead, most small business need public investment in child-care assistance, affordable health care, and infrastructure ranging from transit in metro areas to broadband in rural areas. Citing her experience in economic development in Greater Minnesota, Leonard said: “All of us need to support and advocate for the necessities of business infrastructure today: robust, affordable, and stable broadband, child care, and health insurance. It’s the just, and the smart, thing to do. What benefits small business, benefits all of us.”
“More than 30,000 Minnesota parents had to quit or drastically change their jobs in 2016 due to child care challenges. We need bold investment in programs, like Child Care Assistance, that can help improve families’ access to the child care that meets their needs. The benefits of a strong child care system will be felt by children, families, and child care providers, in addition to employers that rely on a productive workforce now and in the future.”-- Jessica Anderson, Legislative Affairs and Communication Director for the Minnesota Children’s Defense Fund.