Welcome to The Center for Rural Policy and Development

Our website is the gateway to all of the Center’s research, publications, the Atlas of Minnesota Online, Rural Minnesota Radio, and the Rural Minnesota Journal. For more information on the Center, check out our Contact page. We welcome your questions and comments.

Minnesota Prairie

In the News

A quiet crisis

A crisis is brewing throughout Minnesota and the nation: people have been getting out of the in-home family child care business at a disturbing rate, creating a severe shortage over most of the state. The impact is being felt beyond the family, reaching to employers and communities. We look at the root causes and results.

Bringing broadband to rural Minnesota

Many factors go into making broadband work both technically and economically, but the discussion over broadband has grown so complex and is so fast-changing, it can be difficult to keep track of the issues.  To help with that, we’ll discuss the basics of bringing broadband to Greater Minnesota and some of the points of debate. We also have a Broadband 101 glossary of terms.

City transit, rural transit

Public transit is important to all communities across the state, but the form it takes and who uses it varies a lot depending on location. With this fact sheet, City Transit, Rural Transit, and the accompanying article, we look at the top things to know about public transit in Minnesota, including who operates it, how it’s funded, and most importantly, who uses it and why.

Diversity in Rural Wealth

As the Baby Boom generation retires and their children move away, rural communities are becoming concerned about the future of the financial capital of that generation. U of M Extension’s Ben Winchester writes, though, that besides financial wealth, there are a number of other types of capital that rural communities hold and should be using.

The coming workforce squeeze

Rural counties in Minnesota have been experiencing the workforce squeeze for years. As Baby Boomers age and retire from their jobs, employers have a hard time finding younger people to replace them. According to the Minnesota State Demographic Center, though, it’s not just a challenge for rural counties anymore.

We’ve produced two fact sheets. The first is on the workforce squeeze and goes over the numbers, the impact, and potential answers to the issue. The second fact sheet takes a look at what communities should keep in mind when it comes to attracting workers and where those workers may come from.

Rural grocery stores by the numbers

For many small rural towns, the grocery store is central to the community. It’s not just quick, nearby access to food, it also serves as a community hub, a “third place” for people to gather between home and work. Demographic changes in Greater Minnesota have been hard on local grocery stores, however. Between 2000 and 2013, Greater Minnesota lost 14% of its grocery stores. We’ve put together a fact sheet on the reasons, the implications, and some possible strategies for new models when it comes to one of our most basic services.

Challenges in building a long-term care workforce

The age wave we’ve been expecting for the last 30 years is here now. Baby Boomers began turning 65 in 2011 and they’re only getting started. Between now and 2040, the 65+ population is expected to double, and communities both in Greater Minnesota and the Twin Cities metro will be facing the problem of where to find workers, particularly in the field of long-term care. The Center has prepared a collection of slides outlining the issues for Greater Minnesota when it comes to finding people to care for our seniors, some takeaways, and some suggestions on what can be done to help.

Untangling the issues of freight rail

The Center has a new brief out, this time on freight rail, the role it plays in the state’s economy, and the complicated issues that go with it. The state of rail: Untangling the issues and a key findings summary are online now.

The State of Rural Minnesota

Learn more about the demographic and economic factors of Greater Minnesota in the Center’s annual State of Rural Minnesota presentation.

Rural Reality: Tourism

This Rural Reality infographic takes a look at tourism in Greater Minnesota from an economic impact standpoint and from the community development side of things. We also present a few examples of towns around the state doing big things.

Two new reports: Immigrant farmers and shared services

Two new studies are available on our web site: The Continuing Education Needs of Immigrant Farmers, examining what the state’s newest farmers want and need in continuing education, and Identifying Best Practices for Collaboration, a look at shared services projects around the state and makes them work — or not work.

Rural Minnesota Journal, summer issue

This summer, the Rural Minnesota Journal looks at the unique and often confusing nature of Indian land ownership. In one article, we look at how the Leech Lake Band and Cass County were able to settle differences when it came to buying land and putting it in trust. The other article traces the path of the Mille Lacs Band law suit of the the 1990s that set a national precedent for determining Native American property rights.

The State of Water

This major article takes a look at the complex relationship between rural communities and one of our state’s most precious resources—water

Who Owns Rural Minnesota?

The Rural Minnesota Journal 2014 is all online now. Throughout the year we’ll be addressing the question “Who owns rural Minnesota?” The first quarter’s issue is here, addressing the topics of mineral rights and forestry.



Field with Sunrise

Check out Rural MN Radio on our blog site, ruralrealitymn.org.

We’re posting our new radio shows and Center news and notes there. You can still find our older shows and all our research here on our web site, including the Rural Minnesota Journal.

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Finding the Voice of Rural Minnesota

Rural Minnesota is losing its voice. That’s the conclusion of “Finding the Voice of Rural Minnesota,” a study that found the state’s rural population is becoming increasingly left out and left behind on the discussions that affect our everyday lives. Click here to view the entire report.

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Help us keep great reports like The State of Rural Minnesota and The State of Water coming. Your donations are tax-deductible.


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