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University of Minnesota Extension

Community research

Our educators work with communities across Minnesota. They conduct research on community-focused topics, such as understanding local economics, retaining businesses, growing retail markets, getting to know consumers and developing tourism.

Featured research

Attendees at an Ag Horizons workshop in Rice County, Minnesota.

In 2019, agricultural-related industries generated $2.0 billion in sales in Rice County. Learn more about the ag economy.

Person driving a machine to harvest sugarbeets on a farm field.

In 2021, the SMBSC generated $808.5 million of economic activity and supported 4,900 jobs in their 20-county region. Read more key findings.

People's Energy Cooperative name and logo on the front of their building.

In the PEC service area, 24 business visits were completed between August and December 2021. Read a summary of their BRE program findings.

Completed reports and surveys

Our reports are listed by location (region, state, national or international) and topic. There are the five regions in Minnesota:

  • Northwest
  • Northeast
  • Central
  • Southwest
  • Southeast

Note: Completed reports are not available for every county or location listed below.

About our topics

  • Developing tourism: examines current issues and opportunities for communities and the tourism industry in Minnesota and beyond.
  • Getting to know consumers: examines and profiles consumer behavior.
  • Growing retail markets: examines the strengths and weaknesses of retail sectors in communities and counties across Minnesota.
  • Housing: examines housing challenges in small rural communities in Minnesota.
  • Retaining businesses: features findings from community interviews with existing businesses about the local business climate. Reports may also highlight the strategic actions the communities identified in their business retention and expansion work.
  • Understanding local economies: examines the effects of economic change in communities, regions and states.

Statewide in Minnesota



This region includes these counties:

Becker, Clay, Clearwater, Douglas, Grant, Hubbard, Kittson, Lake of the Woods, Mahnomen, Marshall, Norman, Otter Tail, Pennington, Polk, Red Lake, Roseau, Traverse, Wadena, Wilkin



This region includes these counties:

Aitkin, Beltrami, Carlton, Cass, Cook, Crow Wing, Itasca, Kanabec, Koochiching, Lake, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Pine, St. Louis, Todd



This region includes these counties:

Anoka, Benton, Carver, Chisago, Dakota, Hennepin, Isanti, McLeod, Meeker, Ramsey, Scott, Sherburne, Stearns, Washington, Wright



This region includes these counties:

Big Stone, Chippewa, Cottonwood, Jackson, Kandiyohi, Lac qui Parle, Lincoln, Lyon, Martin, Murray, Nobles, Pipestone, Pope, Redwood, Renville, Rock, Stevens, Swift, Watonwan, Yellow Medicine



This region includes these counties: 

Blue Earth, Brown, Dodge, Faribault, Fillmore, Freeborn, Goodhue, Houston, Le Sueur, Mower, Nicollet, Olmsted, Rice, Sibley, Steele, Wabasha, Waseca, Winona


Non-region specific

Research reports or studies that are not related to any specific region or location.




Consult with us

Community economics • Leadership and civic engagement • Tourism

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

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