Judging by the stream of negativity some people express, one would think we're living in a problem-riddled state that's headed for disaster.
Minnesota - and Douglas County - have a lot of good things going for them. The accomplishments seem to get buried underneath the avalanche of complaints. People shouldn't permanently wear rose-colored glasses or believe there aren't any problems to address in their city or state, but there are plenty of factors that should spark some pride.
Just this week, U.S. News and World Report released a new study that named Minnesota the second best state in the nation. The study ranked Minnesota second for quality of life, third for providing opportunities, sixth for infrastructure and seventh for health care. Minnesota also has some of the lowest poverty rates in the country, along with the most employment equality between women and men.
This is just the latest of many accolades in recent years. Here are other notable ratings about Minnesota:
• Number one for the best-run state in the nation, according to a study published by USA Today. It cited Minnesota's strong fiscal management, low unemployment and poverty rates, above-average median household income, and the state's nearly perfect credit rating.
• Number one state to retire in, according to a study from AARP, the nation's largest advocate for seniors. The study looked at affordability, housing, health care, quality of life, supports for family caregivers and more. Alexandria, by the way, was ranked as the best place to retire in Minnesota, according to a study released this week by SmartAsset, a financial technology company. The study considered taxes (both income and sales), the number of doctors' offices and opportunity for recreation and social life.
• Number one state for women, according to a study from WalletHub. The study looked at women's wages, health and safety, and economic and social well-being.
• Number two state to raise a family, according to a report from WalletHub. The study looked at family salaries, education opportunities, family fun, health and safety, affordability, unemployment rates and more
• Number two strongest state in the nation, according to a study issued by Politico. The analysis was based on 15 separate categories that demonstrate the educational attainment, quality of life, and economic health.
• Number two best overall state in America, according to a study from U.S. News and World Report. The study cited economic opportunities, great education and quality health care.
• The third best state for business in 2017, according to a report released by CNBC.
At the local level, Alexandria is highly rated for providing employees with good retirement benefits. According to research from SmartAsset that used data from the U.S. Department of Labor, Alexandria employers are among the leaders in Minnesota for matching 401(k) contributions, helping the city rank as sixth best in the state.
Another study from SmartAsset ranked Alexandria as the best city in Minnesota for providing recreational and social opportunities for retirees. The study examined the number of recreation centers and retirement centers available to seniors, the number of doctor offices per 1,000 people, and the percentage of the city's population seniors represent.
Another study from SmartAsset examined Minnesota counties to find out where people are getting the most bang for their buck from their Social Security income. Douglas County ranked fifth, based on cost of living data and taxes.
It's clear that Minnesota and our local community are doing some good things. Yes, there are many challenges ahead - a workforce shortage, lack of affordable housing, lagging wages - but we should be building off our success instead of getting mired in negativity.