2017 produced impressive early returns for the Minnesota Rural Equity Project. The effort has been received warmly by audiences throughout the state, and we’re poised to turn the encouraging talk – and ideas that underlie it – into continued momentum for the project, new partnership opportunities for our organization, and real results for Minnesotans.
We’ve worked with project partners to advance smart policies and investments in human capital, infrastructure, and tax policy. We’ve spoken with credibility on the real and perceived aspects of Minnesota’s ‘rural-metro divide.’ And we’re planning to contribute significantly to constructive dialogue bridging gaps in political culture, regional differences, and attitudes toward currently divisive issues – such as immigration, climate change, and role of government.
We’ve logged many miles meeting with Minnesotans in every corner of the state, and we’ve made important connections along the way. For instance, heightened appreciation for the role Minnesota’s regional economic development organizations play has contributed to a proposal for a more regional-focused approach to community and economic development throughout the state. We’re driving this effort, and plan to contribute to creation of a ‘regional competitiveness dashboard’ tracking region-specific progress and investment over time.
Despite clear progress, our work on this and other projects is only beginning. Growth & Justice seeks to fill an important void in Minnesota’s rich domain of progressive policy and the public good – a ‘policy shop’ think tank that balances the interests of economic growth and social justice. Given the increasing effort and investment toward narrower and oftentimes competing ends from other organizations, the need for robust and respected progressive policy expertise – and action! – has never been greater.
Growth & Justice publications, ENEWS, and blogs related to the Minnesota Rural Equity Project are below.
Affordable Housing Crisis, Metro and Rural Minnesota needs to build 10,000 affordable housing units, each year over the next five years and statewide, to meet the demand from low- and moderate-income families, according to a comprehensive report produced last week by the Governor’s Task Force on Housing. The inability of the market to meet these demands will require public investment and the task force came up with a whopping ... Read More
Pioneer TV Features Our “Thriving by Design” Pioneer Public Television, based in west-central Minnesota, covered our historic Thriving by Design gathering this summer in Granite Falls and recently produced a half-hour video interview with the leaders of the conference host organizations. Jane Leonard, president of Growth & Justice, and Brett Buckner, managing director of OneMN.org, offer compelling arguments in the video for bri... Read More
A Rural Addiction Crisis And Violent Crime A basic premise behind our thematic emphasis on "One Minnesota" is that rural and metro Minnesotans are more alike than they are different. We maintain that both will be well-served by practical and progressive policies and public investment that addresses disparities and inequality and that invest in human potential. More evidence supporting this premise surfaced this sum... Read More
A New Social Contract for Rural Minnesota A well-reasoned essay outlining what it really takes to build a stronger rural Minnesota was published Sunday July 29 on the cover of the Star Tribune’s Opinion Exchange section. The author is Jim Mulder, retired executive director of the Association of Minnesota Counties and a Growth & Justice Policy Fellow. Mulder warned against regional and partisan divisiveness ... Read More
Jane Leonard and Brett Buckner on “Truth to Tell” Our “Thriving by Design: Rural & Urban Together” convening in Granite Falls and our work on a “One Minnesota Equity Blueprint” were the focus of a half-hour conversation on KFAI’s Truth to Tell radio show last week. KFAI’s Tom O’Connell, also a community faculty professor at Metropolitan State University, interviewed the... Read More
Imagine a nine-year-old boy we’ll call Oliver Anderson – the same age and first name as the plucky urchin immortalized in Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist -- growing up desperately poor in a small farm town in rural northwestern Minnesota. Oliver’s single mom scrapes by on low-wage part-time jobs in town, and sometimes finds seasonal work, but she subsists on an annual income near the official poverty level. Sur... Read More
A dominant narrative in mainstream and social media suggests our nation and state has lost its sense of community, that partisan and ideological rancor hopelessly divides us, from Congress to our holiday dinner tables, and that we have little interest in helping each other. A notion that a spirit of meanness pervades our rural regions is particularly prevalent, and indeed there are enough examples of bigotry and xenophobia and disregard for... Read More
Minnesota has been ahead of most other states in recognizing the importance of early childhood education, and investing up front in this priceless human capital. Currently, thanks to bi-partisan support and strong consensus among business leaders and childhood experts, Minnesota is putting hundreds of millions of dollars more into quality child-care than we were just a decade ago, through a variety of systems. Yet for all this... Read More
Justin Stofferahn is a policy specialist for the State of Minnesota and is a new Policy Fellow for Growth & Justice. His work focuses on fiscal and economic issues. He also has policy experience from his work in the offices of the Illinois Governor and Lt. Governor. Economic Concentration in Minnesota The biggest story in economic development right now is the bid to secure Amazon’s second headquarters and the estimat... Read More
Putting Things Back Together A Youth Social Entrepreneurship Case Study By Jeanne Walz, Matt Howard and Dane Smith A little more than a year ago, Ethan (last name withheld at his request) was headed in no particular direction, except perhaps toward trouble. He lacked motivation, was not doing particularly well in high school, and his scrapes with authorities worried his mother and teachers. His mom -- before signing him up for a specia... Read More