The Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission (AAEDC)’s mission is to provide regional leadership in a collaborative effort to facilitate job growth. Our vision is to see the area as a regional center sustaining a vibrant, growing economy that is attractive to businesses and to a capable, productive workforce. Economic development expands beyond job creation and investment; it is also about raising the standard of living and improving the community and quality of life for all of our citizens.

The majority of the economic activity in the Lakes Area occurs when existing industry or business expands. Whether the development is the expansion of existing business or a new business locating in our community, it creates more jobs, provides more money spent in our community, increases the funding of our governments and creates a more vibrant community.

Education is one of the first things businesses and industries inquire about when they look to build or expand here. A financial commitment to education is of the utmost importance when trying to recruit new prospects and retain current industries. It sends a message to industries that our community is willing to invest in our students and create a community where people want to live and work.

Research shows that individuals who graduate and have access to quality education throughout primary and secondary school are more likely to find gainful employment, have stable families, and be active and productive citizens. They are also less likely to commit serious crimes, less likely to place high demands on the public health care system, and less likely to be enrolled in welfare assistance programs. A good education provides substantial benefits to individuals and, as individual benefits are aggregated throughout a community, creates broad social and economic benefits.

Now, more than ever, K-12 education plays a vital role in building the foundation to evolve our workforce of tomorrow. The upcoming referendum will provide the funding necessary to bridge the district’s budget gap and help maintain its academic programs, student support services and class sizes.

The Alexandria Public Schools will hold a one-question referendum on November 5, 2019 for a phased-in operating levy. If approved by voters, the additional funding would help the district maintain or reduce class sizes, expand mental health support, and maintain or expand real world work experiences at the middle and/or high school.

The leadership and employees of Alexandria Area Schools are working to maintain and build a better environment for the education of our future workforce. These efforts include ensuring funding is available to maintain the level of education our students currently receive.

The referendum is Tuesday, Nov. 5. To learn more about the levy, please visit the district’s website, https://www.alexandria.k12.mn.us/domain/898 or attend one of several information meetings about the referendum.

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Nicole Fernholz is the director of the Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission. In the Know is a rotating column written by community leaders from the Douglas County area.