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ENEWS: G&J Responds, Next Equity Breakfast, Willmar in National Spotlight

Date Published: 05/28/2019

Author: Dane Smith and Sarah Leistico

Our Unifying Role Clarified in Letter

Seizing an opportunity to clarify our role as consensus seekers for a more equitable prosperity, Growth & Justice Board Chair David Fisher sent a letter to the editor (“Growth & Justice Responds”) to the Star Tribune that was published on Sunday May 19.  The letter responded to  a recent commentary (“Minnesota Needs Independent Policy Ideas Again),” authored by former Minnesota Chamber of Commerce vice-president Bill Blazar, who encouraged more independent policy analysis and third-party idea generation.   Our letter commends the commentary generally,  but takes issue with the term “ideology driven’’ to describe Growth & Justice.   Fisher notes that G&J was founded in an effort to find common ground between business leaders and social justice advocates.   Fisher also wrote:    “Our emphasis on creating a more equitable economy and a more inclusive society actually pervades the mission statements of the philanthropic foundations that Blazar encourages to step up in support for policy study.  We have partnered with many of those foundations and have found strong common cause with most of the individuals and organizations that Blazar names, including the Civic Caucus, the Citizens League and the Itasca Group.”  Fisher further notes the citizen engagement process behind our Thriving by Design process and our Minnesota Equity Blueprint.   And the letter notes our  alignment with the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce on crucial priorities, including early childhood development, welcoming immigrants, improving transportation and transit systems, and investing in renewable energy.

G&J Kicks-off Breakfast Series

Last Wednesday Growth & Justice hosted around 60 community members for our first Umbrella Breakfast on Minnesota Equity – with a focus on rural-urban and regional equity. Guests connected over food, introductions, and conversation. All three presidents came together to share their perspective on Growth & Justice’s mission and vision. Joel Kramer refreshed our memories with an overview of G&J’s early days and founding, Dane Smith recapped the work and continued direction of our efforts, and Jane Leonard introduced herself and the present work being done related to rural-urban equity initiatives. Thank you to all who were able to join! We will have additional events this summer, the next being July 23rd, which will center on Growth & Justice’s partnerships and work related to racial equity. RSVP for both remaining breakfasts via Eventbrite.

​Willmar Featured in New York Times

The New York Times featured Willmar, MN in an opinion piece by acclaimed Minnesota native Thomas Friedman this week as the “the right answer to all three questions" of why communities might rise or fall. This success story is familiar across countless towns and cities in Minnesota, with an overarching theme: welcoming and embracing newcomers into towns and cities is a critical key to reviving regions and economies. The article illustrates that, “In Minnesota, the towns that are rising are places “that have said we need a trained work force with a good work ethic and we’ll embrace a redefined sense of community to get that.”

From education initiatives to community led exchanges, “The model is: listen to what the community needs and amplify it, and invest in bringing new voices to the table.” Willmar’s national spotlight reinforces the imperative Growth & Justice has placed on welcoming immigrants and newcomers. It is good for business, and local and state policy that empowers all Minnesotans to participate in a thriving, inclusive economy is vital to our future as a state.

Quote: “Growth & Justice has always sought common ground between business leaders and social-justice advocates, and our organization’s founders include former CEOs and business executives. Our emphasis on creating a more equitable economy and a more inclusive society actually pervades the mission statements of the philanthropic foundations that Blazar encourages to step up in support for policy study.” David Fisher in Star Tribune “Growth & Justice Responds” Letter to the editor.

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