On our many travels this summer, listening closely to both concerns and success stories in Greater Minnesota, we constantly hear about the importance of “place-making” for rural communities. The Center for Rural Policy & Development expresses this idea very well with this recent statement in the Morning Take tipsheet: “For most parts of the state, the coming workforce squeeze is already here. A smaller pool of workers means businesses—and communities—will be competing for their attention. Communities around Minnesota are starting to work on how to make their towns the places people want to move to. (Italics added). But part of making a community a great place to live involves not just cosmetic improvements but also deep infrastructure upgrades as well: updated broadband, water and sewer, expanded public transit, and more accessible health care.”
Want to see at once how diverse your part of Minnesota is becoming? Check out this interactive map and charts from the New York Times. Hover the cursor over Minnesota counties to see how far they have advanced toward the projected national demographics of 2050, when more than half the national population will be people of color. Note the diversity in Nobles County (southwestern corner) and Mahnomen County (northwestern corner), where the non-white population is actually higher than in the urban core of Ramsey and Hennepin counties. In general, all of Minnesota is moving faster toward diversity than surrounding states and other Midwestern states. Minnesota is now the most diverse state in the five-state region, with the non-white percentage of population overtaking South Dakota and Wisconsin over the last 25 years. We also happen to have the strongest economy in the region, on most measures. We agree with our business leaders that embracing diversity and immigration and pushing toward educational and workforce equity is imperative for our long-term economic success.
Despite obstruction in Washington D.C. on our national response to climate change, Minnesotans from border to border _ and in the public, private and non-profit sectors _ are investing aggressively in renewable energy and conservation. One of the best places to keep track of this amazing progress is following “MN Energy Stories,” and subscribing to the regular updates by Clean Energy Resource Teams. Note the proliferation of these initiatives in rural communities, including Henderson, Chisholm, Lake Crystal, Orr and Cook County.
“America is more than demographics, but how they change can have a profound effect on culture, politics and business. An aging population is already beginning to test the health care industry and threaten the nation’s fiscal future. The rise of minorities, led by a swelling Hispanic population, is transforming the nation’s complicated relationship with race and ethnicity.” –– New York Times reporters Niraj Chokshi and Quotrung Bui, in article linked above with interactive map.