Yesterday Growth and Justice released the latest section of the Minnesota Equity Blueprint – with special focus on economic development. The event was held at Sprout Growers and Makers Marketplace in Little Falls, MN. We heard from folks from Region Five Development Commission, Rural Renewable Energy Alliance, Five Wings Art Council, The Initiative Foundation and others.
You can watch the meeting in its entirety below.
Growth & Justice does a good job promoting rural and urban partnerships. Yesterday they talked about entrepreneurship, childcare, welcoming new people into the communities (immigrants and others), using art for placemaking and more. (The next section should address broadband more directly. Can’t wait!) These are the issues that are thorns in the side of residents.
It was interesting to hear from the presenters and the questions they got. Region Five has a program where they work with businesses and communities to be more welcoming – again of immigrants or others, like new graduates. There was a small group of protesters, who did not like the idea of welcoming immigrants. They didn’t think their community needed it. Region Five explained that businesses and communities came to them for help. They aren’t door knocking for clients. Receiving their welcoming service is NOT mandated or required to receive a grant, loan or other service.
The vocal minority thought they spoke for the community – but clearly they didn’t speak for the whole community because Region Five has a waiting list for their welcoming services.
It reminded me of broadband discussions in some communities. Generally businesses want broadband. Generally anyone with kids in school wants it. But sometimes there is a group of vocal and/or powerful (on boards or otherwise in a decision-making position) who doesn’t think the community wants to invest in broadband. I remember attending a meeting in Sunrise Township where board members needed some persuading to understand that many people wanted broadband. (Now they have it.)
Communities without broadband have difficulties retaining, never mind attracting new residents and businesses. At the Growth and Justice meeting I was reminded that the State Demographer has reported that immigration is fueling population growth. Communities that aren’t welcoming will have difficulty attracting new residents. Broadband and immigration are coming; communities ignore that fact at their own peril.