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Granite Falls Advocate Tribune - Granite Falls, MN
  • Unique challenges pose greatest risk to rural Minnesota Aging workforce, lack of broadband, lack of job training and deteriorating infrastructure must be addressed

  • The Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities (CGMC), an organization of 85 cities from across the state, concluded its annual summer conference last week with a serious warning that a unique set of challenges facing Greater Minnesota will likely determine its fate unless action is taken.Citing recent reports and statistics t...
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  •     The Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities (CGMC), an organization of 85 cities from across the state, concluded its annual summer conference last week with a serious warning that a unique set of challenges facing Greater Minnesota will likely determine its fate unless action is taken.
    Citing recent reports and statistics that highlight an aging workforce, lack of skilled workers, inadequate broadband and deteriorating roads, the group called on the public to join with them in making these issues a top priority during the gubernatorial campaign in the coming months.  
    CGMC said some of the most concerning trends include:
    •Despite a 41.2 percent increase in full-time vacancies since 2006, Greater Minnesota currently has an unemployment rate slightly higher than the metro area, according to DEED. This compares to the metro area’s 5.5 percent decrease in vacancies during this time. This is likely due to a “job skills mismatch.”  (Source:  Job Vacancy Survey, DEED)
    •DEED found in 2013 that 52 percent of vacancies in Greater Minnesota were hard to fill versus 36 percent in the metro area.
    •Broadband: Only 45 percent of households in Greater Minnesota are connected at speeds needed for present-day applications (25 mbps downloads / 6 Mbps upload), compared with 92 percent of metro households. (Source:  ConnectMN, May 2014)
    •The percentage of Greater Minnesota workers under the age of 55 shrank from 85 percent  in 2000 to 79 percent in 2012. The age of Greater Minnesota’s labor force is expected to continue to accelerate going forward. (ACS 2012 estimate and 2000 Census Labor Force statistics)
    “These are huge problems facing our state. Unless we have adequate roads, broadband infrastructure and a talent pool of younger skilled workers, Greater Minnesota will slip further and further behind,” said Randy Wilson, president of the CGMC and mayor of Glencoe. “If Greater Minnesota can address these challenges, the entire state will be stronger.”
    Wilson said that it is critical for citizens to become involved in the gubernatorial campaign, write letters to the editor and attend candidate forums and demand that candidates address these key issues.
    “These are really tough and complex problems, and it is imperative that whoever the next Governor is, he has a vision and a plan for Greater Minnesota and will work with us to resolve these issues,” said Wilson

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