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ENEWS: On Renewables, Immigration, and the Rural-Urban Divide

Date Published: 09/12/2017

Author: Dane Smith

Our Take on Renewables in Morrison County

Renewable energy _ wind, solar and conservation technology _ is becoming rapidly more efficient and profitable.  An accelerating conversion to renewables could be particularly helpful to our Minnesota economy and for our workforce outside the metropolitan area, where about 97 percent of our wind blows and our sun shines. Our One Minnesota Rural Equity Project, will help dispel irrational opposition to renewables. An example is our recent op-ed in the Morrison County Record, co-authored with Michael Krause, a Minnesota advocate working on renewable energy implementation.  We point in the commentary to emerging bipartisan consensus, across the left-right divide, on the potential for profits and business growth from renewables. A prime example is the recent formation of the Minnesota Conservative Energy Forum.

Minnesota Economy Needs More Immigrants

Our e-news this summer has frequently alluded to the growing chorus from our Minnesota business leadership warning about the threat to our economy and our workforce from anti-immigrant sentiment and public policy.  That story landed on the front page of the Star Tribune on the day after Labor Day, focusing on a dairy farmer in central Minnesota who depends heavily on Latino workers.  This key paragraph sums it up:  “Multiple analyses by state and private groups show that Minnesota will need a major influx of immigrants — not cuts — just to maintain its current economic growth rate, and many more immigrants to increase it. Demographic analyses show that the state’s aging population and low birthrate will soon leave native-born Minnesotans struggling to fill the state’s labor pool.”

MinnPost Analyzes Rural-Urban Divide

A founding premise of our work at Growth & Justice is that Metro Minnesota and Greater Minnesota, despite obvious differences, have more in common than in contrast.  We are inextricably interdependent.  Both regions are in need of public investment in human capital and infrastructure, and both need a more equitable and inclusive economy. That theme was reinforced in a recent article by Minnpost reporter Greta Kaul, drawing on a major report issued earlier this year by the State Demographer’s office, Greater Minnesota: Redefined and Revisited.  Kaul’s final words: “And even if urban and rural Minnesotans feel divided from one another, it might not matter much. A 2011 study by a Minnesota Rural Partners researcher documented the extent the economies of urban and rural Minnesota are interdependent. Like it or not, we’re all in this together.”

Quote of the Week

“It is debatable whether people vote in their financial interests or for ideology. But (voters motivated by anti-immigrant bias) need to know that the (Minnesota agriculture) process, from field to fork, relies on immigrant labor.” -- Marin Bozic, Assistant Professor in Dairy Foods Marketing Economics, Department of Applied Economics, at the University of Minnesota.

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