People in western Minnesota, an area stretching from Ortonville to Granite Falls, are hoping that focusing on creativity, art and handwork will lead to jobs and reverse the longstanding trend toward a declining and graying population.
A growing contingent of people over 55 are going into business for themselves, becoming what some call "encore entrepreneurs" or "olderpreneurs."
CROOKSTON, Minn -- In a small tucked-away lab on the University of Minnesota campus here, Brent Carlson-Lee wears a wrinkled white lab coat and tinkers with what he hopes soon will be a deep fried appetizer sold at local restaurants. He's cagey about the details of the snack--he often makes people sign a confidentially agreement before telling them about it--but he says something unique happens after it's formed and before it appears on the plate.
St. PAUL, Minn. - Growing entrepreneurism is like a magic trick. Everyone is thrilled when it happens, but only a few people know how to make it work. We asked two local experts to pull back the curtain and explain a few things about starting a business. Lois Josefson is executive director of TiE Minnesota, an entrepreneurs' education, networking and mentoring organization. Mark Spriggs is chair of the entrepreneurism department at the University of St. Thomas.
St. PAUL, Minn. - Hot-dog stands, sunflower seed snacks, wake boarders and Scandinavian gifts. Three entrepreneurs to watch across Minnesota; from the Ground Level Blog
LITTLE FALLS, Minn. The enormous ceiling lights flash on as Tom Elbert walks through the 260,000-square-foot former Crestliner plant in Little Falls, and they turn off as he leaves each area. He installed the energy-saving lights soon after he bought the shuttered factory about a year ago and wanted to cut an electric bill that can reach $10,000 a month.
JACKSON, Minn. Chant and Amy Singvongsa are a two-person entrepreneurial storm in the small city of Jackson, in southwestern Minnesota. They run a daycare, a landscaping company and a T-shirt design and printing service, usually doing business at the same bank.
In a climate where it's tough to get a small business loan from a bank, microloan programs have stepped in to provide start-up capital.
As financial pressures bear down on local governments, an increasing number of cities are trying to turn to the local sales tax as a means of increasing their revenue. The state is looking for fondly on the idea than it used to.
After whittling away at other services, Hendricks and other cities are even asking just how much law enforcement they need. Some of them are choosing to cut law enforcement to save money.
A movement is afoot to rethink the way Minnesota's local governments function. More efficient ways to deliver services could mean collaborations to reduce overhead, doing away with services that don't work or even erasing boundaries on the map.
Many Minnesota cities are stuck with unfinished housing projects and empty industrial parks and infrastructure expansions that once looked promising but now feel burdensome.
Cities and counties across the state are facing tight budgets because of cuts to state aid and a struggling economy. Minnesota communities are scaling back libraries by cutting hours, staff and acquisitions budgets.
Mayors and city managers are being forced to make hard choices while they deal with cuts in state aid, a lagging economy, degraded property values and demands for lower taxes.
As Bemidji builds a stronger local foods reputation, a food cooperative hopes a new incubator kitchen can strengthen the network of local food producers.