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ENEWS: Human Capital for Business and in Olivia, and the Rural Pulse

Date Published: 04/23/2019

Author: Dane Smith

Small Biz Owners Call for Human Capital Investment

Monday’s Star Tribune featured an op-ed by two small business owners,  members of the Main Street Alliance, who made a strong case for an expansive state budget and ample public investments that actually improve the lives of their customers and employees.  Growth & Justice has been collaborating with Main Street Alliance in support of policies that build human capital and economic security, by lifting wages and benefits, improving educational attainment,  and providing health-care for all workers and employees.   From the article:  “By fully funding our schools, reducing child care and health care costs for working families, and by addressing racial and economic disparities, this budget (proposed by Gov. Tim Walz)  invests in what we value in our state.’’    The op-ed further argued:  “We are not alone in the business community. Many responsible local business associations in Minnesota actually have been leading the charge for more investment in road and transportation systems, broadband and other infrastructure, Local Government Aid, environmental action, and improved educational services, from early childhood to specialized career training, and addressing our workforce shortages.” 

Human Capital Featured in Olivia Equity Blueprint Rollout

The first installment of “The Minnesota Equity Blueprint, ’’ focusing on how rural and urban Minnesota can invest more equitably in human capital, is being released this week by Growth & Justice and OneMN.org.   The report (sneak peek for G&J e-news readers here) will be the focus of a community conversation from 9 to 11 a.m. on Friday April 26, at the Master’s Cafe in Olivia.    Join us for this southwestern Minnesota focused community forum, featuring local and regional highlights from the Olivia Main Street Program, the Grow Our Own project of the Southwest Initiative Foundation, and others.  The Olivia event will be the first of five rollouts in 2019, with Economic Development, Infrastructure, Climate Action & Natural Resources, and Democracy to follow in other locations across Minnesota.  RSVP via Eventbrite.

Rural Pulse Shows Disparities, but More Optimism

Rural Pulse, a survey conducted every three years by the Blandin Foundation, provides one of the better in-depth analyses of both the socio-economic condition and the state of mind of rural  Minnesota.   The  survey provides  a particularly useful picture of truly rural regions because it separates sparsely populated areas from  urbanized centers in Greater Minnesota, including Duluth, Rochester, St. Cloud, Mankato and Fargo-Moorhead.   Among the 2019 Rural Pulse findings:

·       A third of both urban (31%) and rural (38%) residents polled continue to say metropolitan needs are more important to elected officials than those of rural communities.

·        While one in three Minnesotans statewide report that the economy has improved over the past year, many may not be personally feeling it yet. Only 28 percent of rural and 33 percent of urban Minnesotans report their own household income increased over the past year.

·       Nearly eight in 10 (78%) of those living in rural Minnesota say that they are optimistic about the future of their community, up four percentage points since 2016. They also feel they are able to make a positive community impact (84%) and that their community works together to effectively address local issues (82%).

·       New to Rural Pulse this year were questions related to diversity and inclusion.  Only 46 percent of rural residents say they have close friends of a different race or culture, compared to 70 percent of urban residents.  

Quote:   “It’s important to note, too, that for decades Minnesota has consistently outperformed states and regions with lower taxes and skimpy public services, on measures of both business growth and quality of life.”   From Op-Ed cited above, by Danny Schwartzman, owner of Common Roots Cafe in Minneapolis, and Joel Vikre,  co-owner of Vikre Distillery in Duluth.         

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