By Julie Tesch, CEO and President
Greetings from the Center for Rural Policy & Development (CRPD)! We took a hiatus from posting on the blog over the summer to take a much-deserved rest. We covered a lot of ground the last half of 2020 and the first half of 2021 so it was an opportune time to kick the work down a notch and get ready for the coming months. It was nice to hear several people at events throughout the summer asking me what was on the docket for our research agenda in the coming months. This proves that people are reading and utilizing our research, which means we are accomplishing our goal. With that being said, we are excited to let you in on our research agenda for the rest of 2021.
We are extremely close to finalizing our report on dark store theory. Have you ever heard of dark store theory? I know that I had not, but our friends at the county and city levels know about this tax strategy all too well and it is often overlooked. Basically, dark store theory is a legal strategy used by big box retail stores like Lowe’s, Target, Walmart, and Menards to lower their property tax value. These retailers contend that their fully operational, often thriving businesses should be assessed the same as vacant buildings or “dark stores.” This leaves cities and counties in a precarious position when it comes to collecting taxes. It is a very interesting topic and we will be releasing our report in the coming weeks along with having a webinar and video on the topic. Stay tuned.
The rest of 2021 will have us working on a report studying agriculture land taxes and how it effects county government coffers and also a report on the Amazon effect on local sales tax revenue in rural communities. So, the name of the game for rest of the year is taxes. I’m sure some rousing discussions will ensue.
Each of these reports will have a webinar that you can attend for free and learn more about the topics, along with a research brief. Our goal is to make these reports user friendly for you, our users.
This fall we will also be bringing back the INTERCONNECTED webinar series with the Citizens League where we explore issues that are common in both rural and urban communities. It was good to see such a large turnout for these webinars in the spring so we are excited to bring them back and go more in-depth on topics. We will also be releasing new podcasts and blog posts that explore different topics.
Going into 2022 we have a packed schedule starting with the release of the annual State of Rural report, along with reports on strategies being used in communities to solve the childcare shortages,, rural Emergency Management Services workforce, high school student migration in Southwest Minnesota, as well as further explorations on the resources available to our communities to help bolster engagement between government and immigrant and refugee populations. It always amazes me how much our research staff can crank out each year. They are rockstars.
So, stay tuned to our website at www.ruralmn.org for our latest reports, blog posts, podcasts, videos and webinars coming up in the coming months. Best wishes for a splendid fall.