Minnesota Rural Partners, Inc. would like your assistance to help support and strengthen rural-urban connections — such as increasing access to local sources of healthy foods, developing green energy, caring for our water resources and spurring other innovations that can lead to business growth for the entire state.  

As part of this effort, we are hosting a series of videoconferences and are seeking input from businesses, agencies, individual Minnesotans, nonprofits, economic development groups, academic faculty, staff and students, foundations, associations, industry and a host of other groups.

Following is a brief article that provides more information. We would greatly appreciate if you would distribute this as you see fit – by including in an upcoming e-newsletter, or by forwarding this e-mail to your colleagues and/or members for their potential participation. 

For more information, please contact Deb Miller-Slipek at info@minnesotaruralpartners.org. If you are able to distribute this and can let us know with a quick note to the same e-mail address, we would greatly appreciate it.  Thank you so much.

Best regards,

Jane Leonard, President
Minnesota Rural Partners, Inc. 

Minnesota Launches Pilot Project Aimed at Strengthening Rural and Urban Connections to Foster Innovation

 Minnesotans invited to contribute via videoconferences, e-mail, blog, Twitter

As part of a cooperative effort with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development, Minnesota Rural Partners, Inc. is hosting a series of videoconferences through May 2010 to encourage conversations across the state about rural – urban connections that impact individual lives, communities, and work.  The goal is to foster increased innovation and job growth by leveraging the strengths of rural and urban areas. 

“There’s always been an interdependence between rural and urban areas, with our food supply being one important example of that,” said Jane Leonard, president of Minnesota Rural Partners, Inc.  “Today, more people are realizing the value of those rural-urban connections, and the benefits that come from increasing access to local sources of healthy foods, developing green energy, caring for our water resources and spurring other innovations that can lead to business growth for the entire state.   We want to get Minnesotans talking and thinking about the interdependence between rural and urban areas, as well as future opportunities arising from stronger rural-urban connections.”

Minnesotans are invited to share ideas and examples of rural-urban connections, collaborations and partnerships related to business, workforce, education, arts, food, broadband, health care, energy, and other areas.  The videoconferences will culminate in the Symposium on Small Towns and Rural-Urban Gathering at the University of Minnesota, Morris, on June 9 and 10.  People who are interested in opportunities developing through rural-urban connections are invited to attend the symposium, as well as to help establish the new Minnesota Rural Urban Partnering Council, which will be forming at the Morris symposium.

“Rural and urban areas have always been inextricably tied,” said USDA Rural Development State Director Colleen Landkamer.  “As we move ahead, the health of Minnesota’s economy as a whole will be shaped by how well we use our resources to strengthen those rural and urban connections throughout the state.”

Based on input they receive, Minnesota Rural Partners, Inc. will be mapping existing rural-urban connections and examining how to expand them.  “Through the process, we hope to renew the framework for ongoing rural-urban dialogue and build new partnerships,” said Leonard. 

Participants are asked to register for videoconferences in advance at http://blog.rurb.mn/videoconferences/. The next videoconferences are:

•  Wed., Feb. 17 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in Central Minnesota, and will focus on rural-urban connections, collaborations and partnerships related to manufacturing, workforce readiness and renewable energy, with videoconference sites in:

-  Brainerd
-  Staples
-  Little Falls
-  St. Cloud
-  Saint Paul 

• Wed., Feb. 24 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in Southwest Minnesota, and will focus on rural-urban connections, collaborations and partnerships related to renewable energy, with videoconference sites in:

-  Montevideo
-  Marshall
-  Willmar
-  Hutchinson
-  Morris
-  Edina

For videoconference locations in each town, go to http://blog.rurb.mn/videoconferences/. Additional videoconferences will be held around the state through May 2010; details will be posted online.   Those unable to attend the videoconferences can provide input online through e-mail at feedback@rurb.mn, on Twitter at http://twitter.com/rurbmn or comment at http://blog.rurb.mn.

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