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ENEWS: On Thriving by Design, Digital Readiness, and Energy Conservation

Date Published: 05/03/2018

Author: Dane Smith

YOUR HELP NEEDED!  Register Now for “Thriving by Design, Rural & Urban Together,” June 27-29, in Granite Falls

Damaging disparities – regional, racial, economic and environmental – threaten our long-term future in Minnesota.   We’re working on it, and developing a comprehensive new policy framework that strives for more equitable economic growth and climate action over the next decade.    We need your help! 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 socio-economic contract that heals our divisions: the rural-metro divide, racial injustice, overall economic inequality and environmental degradation.   Registration options include participating in Granite Falls and as an official delegate in the follow-up six-month blueprint development, or as a general participant in the Granite Falls blueprint 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.   Please help spread the word, even if you cannot attend. Download the informational flyers here.  

Take the Digital Readiness Survey

Every single community in Minnesota relies on high-speed Internet access to compete in today’s economy.   Yet we know critical deficiencies still exist, particularly in rural areas and for low-income households across the state. Minnesotans have an opportunity to help identify those gaps through the Digital Readiness Survey, offered by the Purdue Center for Regional Development. Supported by Blandin Foundation and Growth & Justice, the 20-question survey takes less than 10 minutes to complete.   Results of the survey will gauge how Minnesotans are using the Internet, where they are accessing the Internet, and their comfort using an array of technologies. Combined results will be released to help jumpstart meaningful conversations and help guide economic development decisions.  “Taking the Digital Readiness Survey will help us better understand the economic impact of broadband investments and also see the gaps remaining,” said Growth & Justice President Jane Leonard. “Most important, what we learn from the survey results will help catalyze more intentional and equitable strategies for community and economic development, strategies that close the gaps in access and know-how, keep the economic impact rippling and growing, and keep and attract talent for our communities and businesses.”

Energy Conservation Policies Are Working

Our allies at Fresh Energy noted in a recent report that Minnesota’s power companies are actually over-achieving on policies established in recent years to encourage both a shift to renewable energy and conservation.    Recent reports by three investor-owned utilities—Xcel Energy, Minnesota Power, and Otter Tail Power— included these highlights:  all three utilities significantly exceeded Minnesota’s 1.5 percent annual energy savings goal, with Xcel at 2.27 percent, Minnesota Power at 2.63 percent, and Otter Tail at 3.02 percent of sales.   Total savings achieved in 2017 through these energy efficiency programs are equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of nearly 88,000 homes.  Utilities are delivering savings cost-effectively, generating significant benefits for every dollar spent on energy efficiency.


“Broadband access – and the ability to use it – is fundamental to healthy, resilient communities.  This research (the Digital Readiness Survey) will assist leaders in identifying where Internet gaps exist and help them plan for the future.” -- Blandin Foundation President and CEO Dr. Kathleen Annette

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