City leaders from across Minnesota gather in Alexandria
How can leaders in rural Minnesota help their communities thrive in the next 20 years?
That was one of the key issues for those attending the 2013 Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities (CGMC) at Arrowwood Resort and Conference Center in Alexandria on November 15.
Dan Dorman, CGMC executive director, said that economic development is one tool that cities need to leverage more to find success in the next 20 years.
Dorman noted that the coalition recently formed a new economic development partnership that includes city groups, economic development authorities and commissions, chambers of commerce and businesses. Alexandria is a member.
The group, which has grown from 35 members last year to about 50 today, hopes to provide a stronger voice at the Capitol in enacting legislative initiatives that will provide rural cities with more incentives for economic development.
It supports job training program tax credits to help Greater Minnesota businesses find employees with skill sets for 21st century jobs. It also wants to expand the Greater Minnesota Angel Investment Credit for investors who support businesses in rural areas.
Other key topics are transportation funding and broadband access, said Dorman.
“Our organization is driven to finding more balance at the state Legislature so everything doesn’t just benefit the metro area,” he said. “What works great in Minneapolis and St. Paul may not work well out here.”
Dorman said that Minnesota needs to work together to close the wage gap that separates urban and non-urban areas.
He said that a new ranking from Forbes magazine rates Minnesota the eighth best state in the nation for business, but it wasn’t just the metro area that created that distinction; it was outstate Minnesota, too.
Randy Wilson, mayor of Glencoe and CGMC president, said that the fall conference helps city leaders connect on issues that affect all of them, including broadband communication, transportation needs, legislative funding, the bonding bill and more.
Having council members, administrators and mayors “all on the same page,” Wilson said, gives the group a united front in finding solutions to the challenges ahead.