West Central Blogger

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Good morning, Moorhead!

This week WCI traveled to Moorhead to meet with the city's leaders, business people, nonprofit reps and educators over a breakfast buffet.

Moorhead is the largest city in west central Minnesota. Even though it's smaller than its sister city, Fargo, it's more than holding its own.

Moorhead boasts a strong and diverse economy. Housing is booming. It has an unbelievably strong educational system, from preK all the way to higher ed, with lots of community education and lifelong learning opportunities. It has five colleges--five!--that enriches the city in ways other communities would love to emulate. New Americans are finding a peaceful place to call home, thanks in part to the melting pot created by the diverse students from many countries attending school.

Being the largest city in west central Minnesota brings its challenges, as well. There is a large influx of homeless, including youth. There are waiting lists for childcare assistance, Head Start openings and the senior food assistance program. Transportation, especially special mobility transport, is getting to be a challenge as the city grows and the population ages. The lack of childcare is at a crisis stage. More and more people are using social services as they look for help with escalating energy and food costs. The same colleges that are providing so much to the vibrancy of the city are bracing for the impact the economic downturn will make on endowments, donations and grants.
Still, the city knows how to collaborate to tackle issues and create opportunities. The EDA and the City of Moorhead have some exciting plans for business development, including creating a business outreach position to work with new and existing businesses, and collaborating with Minnesota State University Moorhead to develop a wet-lab facility that can be used as a business incubator through scientific research. Organizations like the Lakes & Prairies Community Action, the Metro Youth Partnership, Early Childhood Alliance and Mujeres Unidas work with the schools and the city to reach out to children from the youngest on up, to make sure they grow up healthy and whole.  And groups like the Immigration Development Center and Community Ed are providing opportunities for New Americans to use and expand their skills and knowledge as they learn to make their home in the Moorhead-Fargo area.

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