I want to commend Rep. Deb Kiel, on behalf of the Minnesota Rural Counties Caucus, for taking the lead on the Greater Minnesota Brain Gain bill, that might just be the most significant economic development proposal Greater Minnesota has seen in quite some time.

    I want to commend Rep. Deb Kiel, on behalf of the Minnesota Rural Counties Caucus, for taking the lead on the Greater Minnesota Brain Gain bill, that might just be the most significant economic development proposal Greater Minnesota has seen in quite some time.    

    If you belong to a Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions, Elk, chamber or other local service or business group, you’re probably familiar with Ben Winchester and his Brain Gain in Rural MN, presentation. In it he forcefully contends there is a strong and steady shift of people in the key 30-50 year-old, family-aged demographic moving to Greater Minnesota from the cities and other states.

    To illustrate, he provides the example of Chris Ingraham, the Washington Post reporter who last year called Red Lake County, “American’s worst place to live,” then announced recently he was moving his family there after a heartwarming visit last summer.

    The Greater Minnesota Brain Gain bill is a one-year pilot project that incorporates Mr. Winchester’s Brain Gain concepts. It identifies, coordinates, and supports the energetic, largely volunteer, and universally underfunded economic development efforts our rural cities and counties are putting together to tap into the population shift movement.

    The idea is to provide the structure and funding that currently does not exist for promising outreach programs, and require grant recipients to report back to the legislature about the benefits a sustained, asset-based marketing plan made to the area.

    We appreciate Rep. Kiel’s efforts and trust in her leadership as the bill continues its progress through the legislative process.

Jim Stratton, chairman
Minnesota Rural Counties Caucus and  Douglas County Commissioner
Alexandria, Minnesota