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The Future of Small Towns: Idea Generator
Categories : People : Economic opportunity : Human services : Telecommunications : Transportation : Social/cultural opportunities : Education : Government & policy : Other
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Do you have an idea about the future of small towns? Are the ideas you see not quite hitting the mark? Propose your own idea for the future of small towns!

The Basics

An aging population and the decline of farming and manufacturing have radically altered the economy of greater Minnesota. Services like education have become more important for workers adjusting to new technology and health care has risen in importance as the rural population ages.


What the Experts Say

The cluster effect
Bring together several companies in the same industry (e.g. biosciences, nanotech, etc) to one particular area, add a dash of local expertise by creating specific training programs or recruiting talent, and you have a "cluster" of jobs and educational opportunities to create economic growth. Experts suggest clustering is the most effective way to revitalize small Minnesota town. [Source 1, Source 2, Source 3]

More from MPR:
Document Biotech has potential in rural Minnesota
Document Manufacturing and high paying jobs shrink in greater Minnesota
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Ideas for: Economic opportunity

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3 rating
(1 vote)
Create Fab Labs
Fabrication Laboratory

Fab Labs: http://fab.cba.mit.edu/

An industry of the future, and it could work in small towns better than in big cities.... Read more

From Mark Anderson of Madelia, MN on 09/22/05

1 comment | Vote/comment on this entry



4 rating
(2 votes)
Bring jobs to the people
Instead of only thinking about bringing rapid transit to the rural communities so people can more easily commute to larger communities for work, why not encourage businesses to locate in smaller commu... Read more

From Pamela Ellison of Saint Paul, MN on 07/12/05

2 comments | Vote/comment on this entry



4.5 rating
(3 votes)
Build music instrument factories in minnesota
As a music teacher, I am constantly amazed, and disheartened, with the increasing amount of band instruments that are produced in foreign countries and shipped to the U.S. Many of these instruments a... Read more

From David Stordalen of St. James, MN on 06/19/05

3 comments | Vote/comment on this entry



4.5 rating
(3 votes)
Focus on job growth
Job growth and overall employment are the two components I believe essential to the success of any area. I was raised in a small town and I immediately realized the lack of opportunity available for c... Read more

From Chris Morgan of Sioux Falls, SD on 05/31/05

3 comments | Vote/comment on this entry



4.5 rating
(13 votes)
Support your local businesses
Small towns can wither and die. We need to support the local people who run our businesses and sustain our communities.

A few decades ago when I moved to town we had several shoe stores, several c... Read more

From Lowell Liedman of New Ulm, MN on 05/29/05

13 comments | Vote/comment on this entry



3 rating
(1 vote)
Get a better web site
As a city dweller who wants to escape this summer to rural parts of the state, I rely on the internet to find places to go. Alas, many of these rural areas are thin on details as what to do.

Nothi... Read more

From D Austin of St. Paul, MN on 05/27/05

1 comment | Vote/comment on this entry



4 rating
(3 votes)
Explore and support green tourism
Our non-profit, Renewing the Countryside, has been working with two rural Minnesota communities to explore how "green" tourism initiatives could strengthen local, rural economies.

Rural communities... Read more

From Jan Joannides of St. Paul, MN on 05/27/05

3 comments | Vote/comment on this entry



3.5 rating
(2 votes)
Encourage sustainable, green manufacturing
Produce sustainable products and capitalize on the rise of green products and the price people are willing to pay for them.

Products such as furniture with sustainably harvested wood, fabric made... Read more

From Jen Sturtz of Minneapolis, MN on 05/26/05

2 comments | Vote/comment on this entry



2.5 rating
(3 votes)
Raise the minimum wage
Raising the minimum wage will affect small town businesses and big box retail more than it will ever affect the rest of the economy.

As a package, those businesses who will be devastated by the ch... Read more

From Leland Rueb of Onamia, MN on 05/25/05

3 comments | Vote/comment on this entry



3.5 rating
(3 votes)
Legalize industrial hemp
Small town rural America could have a "compact" stipulating that only farms of a certain size could grow industrial hemp.

People! South America and Africa both have plenty of sustainable land to f... Read more

From Leland Rueb of Onamia, MN on 05/25/05

3 comments | Vote/comment on this entry



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Submit your own idea

Do you have an idea about the future of small towns? Are the ideas you see not quite hitting the mark? Propose your own idea for the future of small towns!

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