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 leaders of the two primary sponsoring groups, Jane Leonard, president of Growth & Justice, and Brett Buckner, managing director of OneMn.org. We continue to be encouraged by keen interest in our rural-urban summit and blueprint project, summarized in our recent MinnPost commentary. From the article: “All these imperatives emerged during the unique three-day conference: inclusiveness and embracing our diversity, welcoming newcomers and investing more in ALL our people and places, reducing regional and racial and economic disparities, redoubling efforts on climate action and environmental protection, and upgrading our physical infrastructure statewide.’’
The Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities, a key partner in developing our 2018 Minnesota Rural Equity Project legislative priorities, is sponsoring a gubernatorial forum later this week. The candidate forum will focus on issues important to Greater Minnesota communities, such as: Local Government Aid, the child care shortage, water quality regulations, transportation, infrastructure needs, housing and job training. It will be one of the few opportunities to learn exactly where the candidates stand on these crucial issues prior to the Aug. 14 primary. The 90-minute forum will be at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 26 in the Grand Hall at the Verizon Center in Mankato. The event is free and open to the public. For those who are unable to attend the forum in person, CGMC is partnering with the award-winning KTV public access station to do a live broadcast online at accessktv.org/watch and also on TV in the Mankato area. DFL candidates State Rep. Erin Murphy, Attorney General Lori Swanson and Congressman Tim Walz, and GOP candidate Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson are all slated to attend. Former Governor Tim Pawlenty, who is challenging Johnson in the GOP primary, has not responded to invitations
A new report by the North Star Policy Institute finds that hundreds of new family-supporting jobs and tens of millions of dollars in economic activity are at stake for Southern Minnesota communities. Reaping maximum benefit for Minnesotans depends on imminent hiring decisions by wind energy companies and whether new projects are built by local or non-local workers. Minnesota’s renewable energy sector is booming and we now rank eighth in the nation in net generation from wind energy. There are currently at least seven major wind farm projects seeking permits or in pre-construction in Southern Minnesota. These projects will generate an additional 1,400 megawatts in renewable power and add to Minnesota’s already impressive wind energy portfolio. The following recommendations from the report would help maximize the local employment and economic benefits of new wind projects. First, secure specific commitments from developers and engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractors to set local hiring goals for new wind farm projects during the project approval process. Second, require regular reporting by developers on their use of local workers. Third encourage collaboration with state-registered apprenticeship programs, which can help recruit and train local workers in skills needed to build wind energy facilities.
Metropolitan and rural America are highly connected and interdependent. To succeed, metropolitan America needs a healthy and sustainable rural economy and culture, and in turn, rural America needs vibrant, well-functioning cities and suburbs to thrive and flourish. From “Creating Opportunity and Prosperity by Strengthening Rural-Urban Connections,” a brief by the National Association of Development Organizations.