MinnPost: How University of Minnesota Extension provides a window into the state’s modern rural economy

EXCERPT: “For the past year, I have been reporting on the rural economy – a broad category that has allowed me to write about a labor shortage in parts of Minnesota, the transformation of an old mining town into a biking destination, and the plight of small-town newspapers, among other stories. In visiting about a dozen small towns for this project, I have found the economy outside the Twin Cities metropolitan region to be more layered and complex than advertised, with longstanding industries – farming and manufacturing, to name two – now sharing space with growing sectors such as green energy and hospitality. From those travels, I’ve learned, among other things, that service businesses long ago replaced retail outlets as anchors in downtown sectors; that clinics and senior living centers are popping up as the population ages; and that brew pubs and trendy restaurants play well in small towns that are looking for more cultural amenities. Those are the views of a mere observer, of course, not an economist. And since I will be reporting for this project for at least another year, it seems like a good time to take a step back to get a broader perspective on what, exactly, makes up Minnesota’s economy outside the Twin Cities metropolitan region.” FULLSTORY: http://bit.ly/2NZPK9h