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Vital Connections

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Learn more about topics important to Minnesota communities through articles and podcasts. Find stories and information to help you get engaged in your community. Help others better know, decide and act.

Community features

A downtown business district in rural Minnesota

Rural-urban economic interdependence

[podcast] What do jobs and other economic factors look like in rural Minnesota? How about urban Minnesota? Listen in as we discuss their top job industries and economic success.

An entrepreneur writing on an easel outside their shop

Entrepreneurial communities turn local dreamers into doers

What do entrepreneurs need to succeed? Read how you can help your community focus on entrepreneurs. Also, learn about a Minnesota conference that will help connect and inspire entrepreneurial communities.

Smiling reduces stress - positive psychology from Denise and Lori

Smiling reduces stress

[video] Can smiling help you through a difficult situation? Listen and learn about the science of how grinning and bearing it can reduce stress.

All articles, podcasts and videos

Find content on topics that include:

  • Community development (e.g. attracting new residents, evaluating programs and local foods)
  • Community economics (e.g. local economies, retail, retaining businesses and workforce)
  • Leadership and civic engagement (e.g. assessing and developing leaders, facilitation, building trust and engaging communities)
  • Tourism development (e.g. learning about visitors and planning festivals and events)

[podcast] Communities are getting creative in how they work to understand and address child care shortages. Hear Greg Wagner from the West Central Initiative as he shares steps they are taking to increase child care capacity.

Newcomers to Minnesota sometimes joke that “Minnesotans will give you directions to everywhere but their house.” But community leaders across the state are trying to change that – in a big way.

One in 10 Minnesota retail dollars (in taxable sales) is spent outside the state. Learn how Minnesota's retail market is changing and ways communities and businesses can adapt.

The last full-service grocery store in Duluth's Lincoln Park neighborhood closed more than 30 years ago, leaving residents stranded in a "food desert."

When visitors recall a memorable trip or vacation, they talk about three things: What they saw; what they did; and the people they met.

Retail is a mainstay for Minnesota’s economy. It adds to our economic output and jobs. Looking deeper shows shops and retail contribution is more than economic.

Like most American institutions, the rural grocery store is facing change. Read about an Extension study of the future of rural groceries and how communities can help.

When a Walmart Supercenter opened in Winona, Minnesota in 2003, there was definitely a churning among local businesses. Eleven years later, what has been the net effect?

Local food growers are working to have their day in the sun. And rural leaders are anxious to see how local food production might diversify and strengthen their economy.

[podcast] How can we create a vibrant Minnesota workforce? Listen to a variety of speakers share insight on workforce issues and how to prepare and help those affected.

[podcast] Minnesota is experiencing a child care crisis that directly affects workers and employers. Listen as Marnie Werner shares insight from the Center for Rural Policy and Development's research.

"Jobs, jobs, jobs." It's a common refrain at political rallies, and some variation is often heard at community meetings.

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