Friday, May 13, 2005

Banding Together for Success

When the census shows the biggest town in a region is less than 6,000 economic development can sometimes be daunting, especially in the face of all of the much bigger organizations in the arena. And that is why it is always encouraging to see rural communities banding together, realizing that what is good for one town is good for the others in the long run.

I was at the Northern Technology Initiative’s Annual Meeting, a six county area to the north of the Twin Cities in MN. It is a group that brings together the local EDs, with the educators, area foundations, utility company EDs, and local Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe’s efforts to reach out in the ED area.

One of the more interesting presentations at the conference was an effort to determine local content of area companies with the purpose of increasing local share and determining commonalities of content that could encourage new business development. It is a process that can only be done on a regional basis. If successfully implemented, it has tremendous potential for enterprise and job creation.

After the conference I toured several cities, including Cambridge, Pine City (one of my agurbs®), Mora and Hinckley. Cambridge is developing new industrial parks. Pine City, which sits on the picturesque Cross Lake and Snake River, has a wonderful downtown park and has innovatively converted an old coke factory, creamery and car dealership into condos and town homes on the banks of the river. Mora, a sister city of Mora, Sweden, holds the annual Vasaloppet Cross Country Ski Race (2nd largest in the USA) every year. A local in Hinckley is building the town a paved airport! It was a great tour! I hope to be back soon.

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