West Central Blogger

Friday, October 31, 2008

An early assembly in Alexandria

WCI staff headed to Alexandria and the Broadway Ballroom on Oct. 29 to learn the area's latest news and most pressing issues at a community breakfast.
Alexandria looks at itself as a regional center. It is well situated, not just in the state, but in the Upper Midwest. It is a manufacturing, healthcare and shopping hub. Many workers in Alec come from surrounding towns, so there's a symbiotic relationship between neighboring cities.

Alexandria is a giving place, too. The community comes together to successfully raise funds and awareness for many causes. There's an active Chamber of Commerce and healthy economic development. Alexandria Technical College is a real asset to attracting and retaining new people by offering custom training and lifelong learning opportunities. Businesses and organizations work together to bring in world-class speakers and trainers in order to become world-class themselves.

There are concerns. There's a lack of affordable housing in the city. There's also a disparity in the preparedness of young children who are entering school. Many aren't ready to begin kindergarten, and it becomes more difficult to catch up as they grow older. Educating parents is an important step to getting help as early as possible for the children who need it.

There's a need for an industrial park with the necessary infrastructure for businesses to start up or expand in Alexandria.

There's a change in diversity in the area. A survey conducted by the Diversity Resource Action Alliance (DRAA) found that many residents are uncomfortable with change. DRAA is bringing people together in social settings, like the Heritage Fest, as a way of helping folks learn more about each other in an informal, relaxed environment.

Then there are all these giving opportunities, which is great. But, are the older volunteers burning out? Are younger people too busy to join service groups or hold leadership positions for charitable organizations? The school district is working to raise up the next generation of leaders by requiring volunteer hours.

Finally, agriculture--food and renewable energy--is a very important sector in the area. Money is going out of the region to invest in renewables. What can be done to invest ag-based businesses locally?

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