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University of Minnesota Extension

Community development

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Creating vibrant communities

Extension engages Minnesotans to strengthen the social, civic, economic, and technological capacity of their communities. We help create vibrant communities and strengthen skills and knowledge in economics, leadership and civic engagement and tourism.

Check out our news page for recent community info.

Community economic resources

Downtown Market Analysis Toolbox

Extension's Downtown Market Analysis Toolbox provides no-cost market research and resources to help small towns. These tools can help local businesses thrive.

Knowing and growing retail trade

Local retail area data helps businesses know and grow their customer base. Find information about market area profiles, retail trade and downtown market analysis.

Retaining businesses in your community

Community-based research creates a community-driven plan to support local business.

Supporting rural business succession

Is your community ready for a wave of baby boomers to sell their businesses? Learn how you can support business owners before and after a transition of ownership.

Understanding local economies

How would a change impact your local economy? Find resources to help your community learn more.

Leadership and civic engagement resources

Assessing your leadership

Is your community willing to invest in its future? Take our assessment and discover your community's leadership strengths and priorities.

Public engagement strategies

How do you engage with the public? Find resources to help you increase public involvement, assist with meeting planning and facilitation, and make group decisions.

Building trust in communities

What holds your community together? Learn how social capital is the glue that holds communities together and ways to build and grow trust.

Exploring the impact of charismatic leaders in communities

How do charismatic leaders impact communities? Learn how the relationship between them and their followers offers key insights to experienced and future community leaders.

Leadership resource publications

What resources would help you lead in your community? Find research-based publications for building leadership programs, creating committees that work and facilitation.

Tourism development resources

Building local tourism

Assisting Minnesota communities with local economic growth through tourism.

Creating positive customer experiences

Do you need customer service training in your community? Our workshops and training will help you provide excellent service to all customers.

Projects and completed studies

A rural brain gain migration

There's a brain gain in rural Minnesota. Learn about the trend and how Extension can help your community create a vision for attracting new residents.

Greater Minnesota's economy

What factors are affecting Greater Minnesota's economy? Read some good news from Extension's research study. Learn how 'it's not your grandmother's rural economy anymore.'

Ripple effect mapping

How do you evaluate your community development work? Learn about ripple effect mapping (REM) and how it tells the story of a program through maps.

Rural grocery stores

Explore resources for rural grocers, results of the statewide rural grocery survey, and information on the farm-to-rural-grocery-to-wholesale backhaul project.

Rural housing solutions

How can a community attract workers without affordable housing? Learn about our rural housing study and creative solutions communities found for housing.

Research and training options

Community research and workshops

We help communities choose their future. Together we can create research that answers your key questions or design community workshops that bring valuable information to your local discussions.

Leadership education offerings

Extension's leadership programs focus on what you need to lead in your community. Our cohort approach to leadership education helps you learn and grow new knowledge and skills to bring people together and solve problems.

Coaching and training for local business retention

Is your community ready to launch a business retention initiative in Minnesota? Extension offers training, facilitation and expert advice to community leaders to help you move through the process.

Community leadership webinars

Register for free webinars to help you refresh your leadership and civic engagement skills, deepen your understanding of challenging topics and connect with other leaders.

Community economics webinars

Take a free webinar featuring research and innovation in business retention and expansion (BRE) professional practice.

Vital Connections

Learn about topics important to Minnesota communities through news articles and podcasts. Use this information to get engaged in your community and help others better know, decide, and act.

Consult with us

Community economics • Leadership and civic engagement • Tourism

Extension educators work in and partner with communities throughout Minnesota. Contact us for consultation, guidance and conversation about your community.

Find an educator

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