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 Development and the Minnesota Newspaper Association) and moderator Mary Lahmmer of TPT-TV steered the discussion toward truly legitimate rural needs: a child-care crisis, a shortage of skilled workers, insufficient affordable housing, and a lack of broadband access. Here are links to a video transcript of the forum and coverage by the Fargo Forum and the StarTribune.
Our small-business allies in the Main Street Alliance-Minnesota and Metro IBA made an important statement amid the Super Bowl hoopla this week, with a campaign dubbed “While You’re Here.’’ It’s a PR effort urging visitors to patronize local small businesses and to remind them that Minnesota’s vitality and attractiveness depend on these smaller local enterprises too, not just the corporate behemoths that sponsored the Super Bowl. From their joint statement: “It’s disappointing that the city and state didn't do more to promote small businesses (in Super Bowl marketing)…and we'll keep pushing them to make small businesses the center of economic development.”
Long-time Granite Falls Mayor Dave Smiglewski, who joined us in an interview on MPR last year when we launched our Minnesota Rural Equity Project, epitomizes positive and inclusive community leadership. We were pleased to see an in-depth profile of the hard-working and conscientious mayor in MinnPost recently and headlined “The optimist: Longtime Granite Falls mayor, in an age of discontent, shares his faith in civic life.’’ Among words of wisdom from the man affectionately known as “Smig’’: “The attitude is, ‘Someone will do it.’ Then you end up having two people for four openings on the school board…People are tugged in more directions than they used to be. Families are busier than ever…The other part of this is that we just haven’t taught people that this is important – and even fun! We have just not taught that to our future leaders…Your communities need you.”
“With each generation people in the metro get farther away from having a tie to Greater Minnesota…We need people creation.’’ Reid Anfinson, owner of two rural newspapers and board member of the Center for Rural Policy and Development, commenting at gubernatorial forum on population loss and the need for rural communities to become more attractive to people.