Jennifer Vogel Feature Archive

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. (02/29/2012)
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. (02/17/2012)
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. (02/09/2012)
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. (12/23/2011)
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. (12/14/2011)
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. (12/14/2011)
Many Minnesota cities are stuck with unfinished housing projects and empty industrial parks and infrastructure expansions that once looked promising but now feel burdensome. (11/17/2011)
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. (11/01/2011)
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. (10/26/2011)
As Bemidji builds a stronger local foods reputation, a food cooperative hopes a new incubator kitchen can strengthen the network of local food producers. (09/28/2011)
MPR News' Ground Level project looks at Minnesota's water pollution challenges and how some residents are tackling them, river by river and lake by lake. (09/13/2011)
Bruce and Ann Tiffany practice as many water-conserving efforts as they can on their corn and beans farm near Redwood Falls. (09/13/2011)
The epicenter of Minnesota's cabin country, Crow Wing County has come to agreement on more aggressive shoreline zoning enforcement. (09/13/2011)
Long a force in cleaning local lakes, lake associations are banding together to become a statewide force. (09/13/2011)
There is no shortage of scientists, environmentalists, entrepreneurs and regular citizens working to solve problems related to water quality in Minnesota. Here are five ideas that could help, some already in use and others on the drawing board. (09/13/2011)