West Central Blogger
Monday, April 28, 2008
Thursday, April 24, 2008
- Health care access and cost of insurance.
- Quality of education.
- Attracting and retaining household supporting jobs.
- Welcoming people of diverse ethnic backgrounds.
What do you think?
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
- The Ashby Education Foundation contributed to the purchase of equipment for the Ashby High School Science Dept. The new tools have already been put to use at the 2008 Science Fair.
- The Battle Lake Community Fund provided a $500 donation for new seating at the local baseball dugouts.
- The Elbow Lake Area Community Fund donated funds to the Elbow Lake American Legion for a veterans' museum in the Grant County Historical Society Annex.
- Perham's 549 Family Foundation helped the Perham High School Industrial Technology Dept. purchase a laser engraver and accessories. The equipment can engrave a variety of materials and is already being used extensively for school and community projects.
Alexandria was ranked one of the 10th fastest growing micropolitans in the nation with eight business expansions that occurred in the last year. Fergus Falls was also recognized for its three business expansions.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
- Open an emergency account. Most Americans do not have money set aside for those financial emergencies that alwasy seem to happen when no cash is available. The rebate check is a great start or addition to an emergency account. The goal might be to have three to six months of monthly fixed expenses in the account.
- Pay for repairs. Maintaining expensive possessions now will result in dollars saved tomorrow. Use the refund to repair a leaky roof before it develops into a bigger problem; replace car tires with new, safer ones; or fix home ceilings, walls, floors, doors, windows, etc.
- Make an extra home mortgage payment. Though you will not feel the benefit immediately, making an extra mortgage payment now puts you one payment ahead and can save you a payment later.
- Fund your retirement account. About 30 percent of all working Americans have no money invested for their retirement. If you are aone fo them, seriously consider setting up or contributing to an IRA account.
- Open a 529 College Savings Plan. A four-year colege education can cost upwards of $100,000. The 529 plan works much like a Roth IRA, and withdrawals are tax-free when used for higher education purposes.
Friday, April 18, 2008
Friday, April 11, 2008
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Fergus Falls folks like the safeness of the community, the good school system, the beauty of the area, the quality of healthcare and the fact that, even as a rural community, there's easy access to metropolitan areas, thanks to the proximity to the interstate. Older people--especially those who grew up in the area or have a lake home--are retiring here. People are generous, too. And it's a good place to do business.
Folks in Fergus Falls think regionally. Government officials from neighboring communities gather regularly to learn from each other and collaborate. Many people think nothing of driving 30-40 minutes to eat at a good restaurant--and that's true for people coming to Fergus Falls as those from Fergus Falls.
There are challenges, though. Long-timers may not be as positive about Fergus Falls as newcomers are. The sidewalk sometimes seems to roll up after 5 p.m. and on weekends. Shoppers may not come to the city if they perceive nothing will be open. Even with a Minnesota State Community and Technical College campus in town, there doesn't seem to be much for young adults to do. "How do we keep young people in town?" some people asked. "We don't. We let them spread their wings and experience the world," others replied. "Then, when they are older and married and having kids, they'll think what a great place Fergus Falls is to live and raise a family."
What are some areas to concentrate on?
- Start building a quality workforce to replace those retiring in ever greater numbers.
- Make Fergus Falls a retail destination, especially on Saturdays.
- Invite businesses and entrepreneurs to invest (and reinvest) in the community.
- Be a welcoming community, especially in terms of the possibility of the Regional Treatment Center turning into an international school.
- Stop worrying about shrinking school enrollment and start figuring out how to make the new, smaller model a model for success and excellence.
- Pay attention to aging infrastructure issues.
- Push for making Fergus Falls an arts mecca for the west central region.
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Gregory Gray, executive director of the Minnesota Legislative Commission to End Poverty by 2020, started the day by sharing the commission's progress. Ending poverty requires a consistent and persistent approach, and the participation of people of faith, nonprofit agencies, government and businesses, he told the audience.
"The people in this room are going to help end poverty. You're the real genius of community action," said former St. Paul mayor Jim Schiebel. He recently served as executive director of the Community Action Partnership of Ramsey and Washington Counties. Schiebel talked about Community Action's "Rooting Out Poverty" campaign, and highlighted five action themes:
- Maximize participation.
- Build an economy that works for everyone.
- Invest for the future.
- Maximize equality of opportunity.
- Ensure healthy people and places.
A panel shared success stories, and Minnesota CAP Executive Director Arnie Anderson encouraged the audience to take an active part in politics through voting, letter writing, volunteering and contributions, in order to further the cause of rooting out poverty.
Keynote presenter John Molinaro, associate director of the Aspen Institute's Community Strategies Group in Washington, D.C., introduced participants to RuFES: Rural Family Economic Success. Actually, many of those attending knew RuFES well--west central Minnesota has been using the RuFES principles of Earn It, Keep It, Grow It. Most families in rural America are working, but struggle to get ahead, Molinaro said. Obstacles include low wages, the need for multiple jobs and dealing with special obstacles like limited opportunities and support that is hard to find. Molinaro led the participants through exercises to help the group and individuals determine what they could do to help rural families thrive and succeed.