Just spent two exciting days in Morris, Minnesota (west Minnesota prairie) attending the Small Towns Symposium. The Symposium is organized every year by the Center for Small Towns (CST) at the University of Minnesota Morris. CST provides assistance on community and economic development projects—often involving more research or expertise than small towns can afford or provide themselves. At the same time, CST works to involve University of Minnesota, Morris faculty and students in the challenges and issues facing rural communities.
I was part of a sub-group organized by Minnesota Rural Partner’s Jane Leonard who is directing a USDA grant, The Rural-Urban Partnership (RurB) thru April 2011 for a pilot project aimed at strengthening rural and urban connections and designed to foster increased innovation and job creation for the state as a whole. Here are some of the goals from the website:
1. Get Minnesotans talking and thinking about the interdependence between rural and urban areas, as well as future opportunities arising from stronger rural-urban connections;
2. Map existing rural-urban connections with the help of individual Minnesotans, businesses, agencies, nonprofits, economic development groups, academic institutions, foundations, associations, and related groups;
3. Renew and/or build a framework of rural-urban partnerships that can lead to new connections, coordination and collaboration to benefit the state. This includes the formation of a Rural Urban Partnering Council at the June 9 & 10 Symposium on Small Towns and Rural-Urban Gathering at the University of Minnesota, Morris.
120 people participated in the Rural Urban Gathering! Local wines from the Red River Valley and local food were served, the conversations were hot and entrepreneurial, and the band, (the unfortunately named) Strollers, fortunately played some amazing rural American blues.
The overall goal is to generate both interest and ideas for leveraging rural-urban connections, leading to innovative business opportunities and jobs, as well as fostering ongoing dialogue.
Travel Momma is ready and developing an innovative, socially responsible travel business that will focus on rural-urban connections. Let me know what you think and where you want to go!