Marnie Werner, Center for Rural Policy and Development     507.934.7700

Amanda Horner, Horner Strategies  952.220.2553

Center for Rural Policy and Development Uses
Technology to Create ‘Office’ Throughout Minnesota

 MANKATO, MINN (February 3, 2014) – Long distances between communities and rural Minnesota’s broadly scattered population often make it a challenge for organizations working in Greater Minnesota to connect with the entire state. This challenge was underscored by a report published last year that found rural Minnesota is losing its collective voice in policymaking and is often being left out of discussions that affect the everyday lives of people and communities in rural Minnesota.

The Center for Rural Policy and Development is taking a small but very visible step to tackle the challenge head-on. Since its creation in 1997, CRPD has had an office in southern Minnesota, first in Mankato and most recently in St. Peter. CRPD started 2014 by closing its physical office, promoting a stronger presence throughout the state.

“One of the messages of the study CRPD published last year, Finding the Voice of Rural Minnesota, is the importance for organizations like ours to break down the barriers of distance,” said Brad Finstad, executive director of CRPD.

“In the past, we’ve been in our office and used technology to connect with audiences, hosting electronic meetings and conversations with people around the state. With the amount of time we weren’t spending in the office, a virtual home seemed like a wiser use of resources. Now, we will have more time to be in communities throughout Minnesota, hosting face-to-face discussions. Meanwhile, technology – and especially the increasing access to broadband throughout rural Minnesota – will allow us to stay in touch electronically with the traditional office work of an organization like CRPD,” Finstad said.

Finstad already spends about half of his time on the road while research director Marnie Werner travels about 20 percent of the time. CRPD’s virtual office will allow more time for travel and make that time on the road even more productive.

“The new virtual office supports our first order of business, bringing together diverse rural voices and ideas to make rural Minnesota an even better place to live,” said Finstad.

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