How housing can help recruit workers
Workforce housing is at a premium in many communities throughout Minnesota. It is crucial to have quality workforce housing to recruit new community members and retain current workers.
In today's episode, we learn about the housing study conducted in Glenwood, Minnesota and how understanding the needs of the individuals working in the area played an important role in planning this community's future.
"One thing that was really good about this study was that we went and asked the employees themselves if they wanted to live in Pope County, and tried to understand who they are as far as potential housing customers."
— Scott Formo, Sr.
- Christy Kallevig, Extension educator
University of Minnesota Extension, Center for Community Vitality
- Ryan Pesch, Extension educator
University of Minnesota Extension
- Scott Formo, Sr.
- Executive director
Glenwood Area Chamber of Commerce
- Executive director
- Use the Community Vitality page as your go-to resource for help in your community work.
- Learn more on the Glenwood and Pope County website.
- Read Workforce Housing in Pope County for more details on the study discussed in this interview.
Read this episode's conversation below.
Note: Our Vital Connections On Air episodes are audio-based interviews. Written transcripts are generated using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before referencing content in print.
Christy Kallevig: Welcome to Vital Connections on Air, a podcast brought to you by University of Minnesota Extension Center for Community Vitality that explores the trends and topics important to communities and leaders throughout Minnesota. My name is Christy Kallevig, and I am an Extension Educator with the Center for Community Vitality and for today's episode, I am joined by Ryan Pesch, Extension Educator and Community Economics for University of Minnesota Extension Center for Community Vitality, as well as Scott Formo who is the Executive Director of the Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce as well as the Mayor of the city of Glenwood. Welcome to you both and thank you for joining us for Vital Connections on Air.
Scott Formo: Thank you Christy. Pleasure to be here.
Ryan Pesch: Good to be here.
Christy Kallevig: Today, we're going to continue our discussion of workforce challenges and focus on the topic of housing. But before we get into that, Scott, I'd love for you to share with our listeners exactly where Glenwood and Pope County are located.
Scott Formo: Pope County is in west central Minnesota. We're about halfway between the Twin Cities and Fargo, North Dakota, and we're just 15 miles south of Alexandria which is on Interstate 94. Lake Minnewaska is the 13th largest lake in the state which the city of Glenwood, Starbuck, and Long Beach all reside around, and so Glenwood itself is on the eastern shores of Lake Minnewaska. We are also the county seat — the largest city in the county with a population of approximately 2500. The overall population of Pope County itself is right around that 11,000 mark, based off the last census, I believe.
Christy Kallevig: What are the main industries of the area? I'm guessing tourism must be part of it, with beautiful Lake Minnewaska right there.
Scott Formo: Tourism is a big portion of it. We also have a lot of industry manufacturing in the area. Some of our other larger employers in the area — we are national headquarters for American Solutions for Business. Obviously the county and the city have a number of employees but also we do have healthcare and retirement living and the school district. Those are some of the larger employers in the area, and then we have some retail and other services and stuff too, but you know with regard to the bigger industries, I guess one that I was forgetting in there also in addition to tourism is the agriculture, we're a big agricultural community also.
Christy Kallevig: And it is just a beautiful area. I'm fortunate to be a neighbor to Pope County and I get to visit Glenwood often, and I'm really glad that you're able to join us today. And Ryan, as we shift this conversation to those folks that listen to the podcast — have you been able to hear the discussions that we've had with our state economists and about manufacturing and childcare? Today we're going to dig into this concept of housing. But I am guessing that some people might be laughing or maybe rolling their eyes or even looking out their windows at the number of for sale signs that they drive by, thinking if really housing is an issue. Can you tell us why we're talking about housing or why we should be talking about housing?
Ryan Pesch: Oh yeah, I mean in my area where I work, in west central Minnesota, I think housing is a really important piece of the kind of the workforce development puzzle and it comes up again and again. I mean, you might see some housing stock on the market. But when we're talking about workforce housing, we're talking about a particular slice of housing. Here in lakes country, I know something that came up through the study. I certainly see it here in Otter Tail County. We have a lot of lake homes going up, but that doesn't necessarily mesh well. The income generating potential is somebody who's working at manufacturing or doing a service job. There's just a little bit of a mismatch. And so what we hear time and time again, we hear from employers, we hear from community leaders, [that] they're trying to deal with keeping and retaining a workforce. How can we get somebody here if they can't find housing here that currently meets their needs and they can afford? So if we have this shortage of employees, it's very difficult to get them and retain them in a community without housing that they can afford.
Christy Kallevig: And so we're not talking about housing for people with limited incomes or what people might refer to as housing assistance, but we're talking about housing that is available and accessible to people who are maybe starting their first jobs, or are mid-level managers. That type of housing, is that correct?
Ryan Pesch: Yeah, I mean yeah we are talking about market rate housing. I don't think we're talking about Section 8 and the like. We are talking about people who are working poor or are working or young professionals who are coming new into a community. They may not have some of those relationships that lands them a house. Overall, we do see low housing stock. Right. So you might you know we heard about this. We did a BR&E in Menahga. You know, the question was, you know, we had a lot of teachers are just starting their career, right? So these are folks that have a B.A., but they're unable to afford some executive mansion starting their career, and they're just looking for some basic housing to buy or particularly to rent. Tental housing, I think as we heard here and we hear [about] a lot of other communities, is even more of an acute shortage than things that are up for purchase.
Christy Kallevig: And so this isn't just simply an issue of supply and demand. There's more factors that are going into this. Is that what I'm hearing?
Ryan Pesch: Well, there's an issue of supply and demand, but there [are] a lot of markets that are at play, if you will, that sort of make it kind of a sticky situation. The housing market, as you know, like any market- it just isn't just all black and white. You know sometimes we try to do these things on an Excel sheet just to try to explain some things. But like with this project, and others — somebody worked at Pope County there's a lot of factors at play. Zoning has an impact, you know housing standards, and ordinances have an impact. You know the market that builders work and their own labor costs have an impact. So when you throw these all into this mix, it's a little difficult to tease apart exactly what's causing the issue. But without a doubt, not just in a Pope County, but across my wider region, we certainly hear about it across the state. It is an issue just in terms of a mismatch of jobs and housing. We certainly saw that in Pope County project as well.
Christy Kallevig: And so when you are looking or working in communities where there are these issues, how do you see the challenges with housing impacting the overall economic picture of a community as well as their vitality?
Ryan Pesch: Well, I think when it comes to workforce housing, the major issue is you might have somebody commuting in for a job. But ideally, you want to be able to retain that person and make them kind of a full citizen of the place, right? So somebody is commuting into Glenwood. Yeah, they might be doing a little shopping in town and so forth — that has an economic impact. But you know it's quite a bit different when somebody makes Glenwood their home, as opposed to a place where they just work. Not only do you have that economic impact as dollars and cents calculation about people spending, and I would assume that would certainly go up, but you also have them as a bigger contributing member of everything from local service clubs to getting involved in school and bringing their own kids to the school. All these things have an overall impact on the vitality of the community, without a doubt.
Christy Kallevig: So definitely a house doesn't just impact one employer. It affects all of main street and the entire community. Scott, any of the stuff that Ryan is saying does it resonate with what you see in Glenwood?
Scott Formo: Yeah, I think that it does for the most part. We've get a group that's been meeting here in Pope County that went through some strategic planning called Positive with Pope County, and that group itself has been meeting off and on both with facilitating that group, as well as some of the work I've done with the chamber. One of the issues that we ran into was the number of employers in the area that identified the need for workforce housing, saying that they were trying to recruit and retain employees and there wasn't enough available housing to be able to keep the employees in the area. They were either having to live outside of the area and commute, or they're not able to take jobs. So with that being said, we talked about a number of different ways to try to address it. But I think what the group came up with was before we actually got into finding ways to actually address it and create more housing. It was we need to go through and do some type of study that would tell us exactly what do we have here. What opportunities are available and what is the wants and desires of both employers and employees, which is where we started working with Ryan and the Center for Small Towns. I'm putting that report together. So there was a number of different things, as Ryan pointed out that you know were addressed as part of that report.
Here in Glenwood, for example, we have a number of homes that came into play [revealed] that we've been a large retirement community for quite a while. And I know that down from a retirement living in Ridgewood Villa, one of our assisted living facilities just recently expanded and practically doubled their size, which now has created some opportunities for people to move. Some of the retired people moved out of their homes that they've been in for many years and moved in there. But because they've been in the homes for a number of years, that's where Ryan's comment about the quality of the homes are coming to play with regards to what's available. What we're finding is or what we are hearing is from people from one of the programs we have through the Chamber and Welcome Center called "Welcome to Glenwood." And what we do is we have kind of a welcome wagon in town, and we make sure we do personal visit with everybody new to the area and that involves everyone in the entire community. But some of the things we are hearing from people who were new to the area was that they were having a hard time finding both rental housing or homes to live in. Saying that they're coming here to try to find a new job, but either the homes that they were looking to buy needed a lot more work than what they wanted to put into it, or they were too expensive for them to be able to afford a starter home with just starting new jobs in the area. So again, that's kind of why we engage the Center for Small Towns and Ryan to kind of look at where are we at and then where can we go. Knowing that it wasn't a comprehensive study of everything that was needed, but at least give us some basics to try to work with developers and give us something to go off with and say we do show a need for housing here and it's now verified by this data from Ryan and the Center for Small Towns.
Christy Kallevig: So why don't you just tell us a little bit about what the study looked like and how you engaged people to become involved in it?
Ryan Pesch: The big thing with this is something we hear in a lot of other communities is that you know people are having to drive into work, right? So all these people are currently driving into work. Of course they just want to live here. And so I think one thing that I think was really good about this study, as opposed to just saying okay, we know X number of people are working here and X number of people don't live here. It's just simple math. That's how many housing units we need. It's a little more complicated than that. I think the good thing that we did here is we said, "Okay, there's a lot of complicating factors that come into play that would cause somebody in their household to move from city A to city B." And so as opposed to just saying we have X number of employees here, let's go and ask the employees themselves where they are currently renting or buying. Do they want to live in Pope County? If so, what is their current rental rate? What is their current mortgage payment? So we get some kind of sense about who they are as potential housing customers, if you will. And so it is we worked through the 10—I think it's the 10 largest employers, right Scott?
Scott Formo: I believe so.
Ryan Pesch: And so we worked through their H.R. directors in order to make contact directly with their employees. And we kicked it off by asking the employers themselves. We had a listening session. And certainly they said, "Yeah this is an issue." And so we said okay we've heard this from you. Let's go to your employees and what we did is we did a survey among 10 employees or 1700 workers or workers that are in Pope County. Some of them live in Pope County, some of them live outside of the county. And so we asked them about where they currently live and all these other factors as a mail survey. We also did it online if that was easier for them, and so we were able to get some sense about their preferences and kind of their future plans as owners or renters.
Christy Kallevig: But you didn't see that very positive focus groups, correct?
Ryan Pesch: Yeah, we did a couple of focus groups. We really wanted to get in a room with some of those folks that had a job in Pope County, but were unable to find housing. And yeah, we did have two focus groups with those workers who were looking for housing or had some ideas about housing. Or their challenges in finding housing in Pope County and so that kind of helped round out what we got in terms of the data.
Christy Kallevig: And what were the results? What did you gather from the study?
Ryan Pesch: You know, one thing I take away is not everybody who's working in Pope County who lives outside the county has a desire to move to Pope County. Right? And I just think that's emblematic of just kind of where we are at life. There's a lot of people that are traveling 30, 60 miles, 50 miles for work, but maybe their spouse or their children are more tied to another community or their spouse commutes in another direction. And so there's some things that really stick people in a place. So there's certainly a portion of both renters and owners that are looking to transition to Pope County that work in Pope County. One other finding relating to that is that it's clear that renters were more motivated to move to Pope County than owners. And that kind of makes some sense right. If you're owner of a home in another community, or you're outside of the county, you're a little more tied to that given place. You're more likely to say, "You know, I work there." This is good, but I'm really not looking to transition there. The stats where it broke down 65 percent of those renters that worked in Pope County, but live elsewhere were looking to move to Pope County, and some portion of them, not a large portion, we did ask them about whether their current housing met their needs. So, for example, you can imagine that somebody [who] was recently married, and they had a smaller home that they rented or owned and they just added two children in the last two years or something like that. Right? And you know they're really at the place with their housing that doesn't meet their needs. Some portion of those are highly motivated to move. So 65 percent of the renters were looking to move to Pope County, and 27 percent of owners were looking to move to Pope County.
Christy Kallevig: So when you are looking at this data, did age factor into it at all? Or number of years on the job?
Ryan Pesch: Yeah, it certainly did. Since we asked people about their demographics when we looked at those that were looking to transition housing into Pope County. They were more likely younger, and they're more likely renters. I just think we had a few other factors we cut out. But we're certainly talking about people who are more at the beginning of their career than towards the end of the career, which also makes sense, right? And you know those later in their career were more likely to own and had less desire to move. Well that makes sense. Right? So I think putting the numbers to it was an important finding, because I think it's an important approach because I think it would go back to my original plan. I think it's pretty easy to just say, "Hey, you know there's you know 400 workers that are living outside the county? Hey, we need something like 300 units?" Well not so fast right. That's a big investment. And so let's try to sort this out as best we can. These are people's lives, right? And so it's a little bit squishy. If I asked you, Christy, what's your willingness to you know, what are you currently paying for your willingness to move and all these kinds of things? There's a lot of factors that come into play. So it's a little complicated in that respect.
Scott Formo: In addition to that, I mean definitely the cost/size of the amenities were things that were important to people, but some of the things that we did learn through that study though too. One of the questions down there was what's important to them in choosing where they're going to live. You know is it recreation, is it family services and shopping, you know is it cost/size amenities, renting versus owning — that stuff. Well one of the things that we found also and we kind of knew this going into it was a large portion of Pope County is a lake community, and because there is so many lakes in the area, there's a lot of seasonal housing here. A lot of the housing around the area is tied up. Where you know people live here during the summer or use it as vacation homes or second homes, which limits the amount of year-round housing that's available. Also, because a lot of them are gone for the winters, they just live elsewhere, and it's just more of vacation/recreation home for them. But there's a lot of those in Pope County, and I think that was another factor that came into play with what's available and what's the need. But also it's one of those other factors that comes to what's important to people.
Ryan Pesch: And I know that definitely came out in those focus groups, right Scott? I mean you get to a point, Christy, we're talking about is that there are multiple markets at play? So one thing that came out is what is the incentive for a builder to build very basic housing, because there's truly a gap in terms of like just basic rental and you know a lot of people are saying housing between you know a house to buy between $125,000 and $250,000. So there're incentives in terms of what's being built. So this is something, again, I see in Otter Tail County. It seems like we're hearing about it in Pope County. This notion is that a builder can build a few very nice places on the lake for a lot more, than are going to suffer a lot more at 250,000 dollars, and it could be just as profitable, if not more profitable than trying to build more basic housing at a lower price point. And so if you're able to do that, and that's what the market's looking for? Well it's kind of hard to make your life more difficult just in order to meet this other need right? And so that makes sense. It makes sense from the point of view of the builder, but it definitely doesn't help our situation in terms of not low income but basic affordable — let's call it middle class housing or working class housing to meet the needs of the people that are working in Pope County.
Christy Kallevig: How have you seen this study shared or used since it was completed or any actions that you've seen taken, Scott?
Scott Formo: I know that with the regard to the study itself, we've shared with the Glenwood City Commission and Pope County and the Pope County Board of Commissioners. I know that the Pope County H.R.A has utilized that study to attract some developers to the area to look at housing, and we do have a number of housing units and stuff that have gone up since the study came out. You know one of them is a partnership the city of Glenwood has with the Pope County H.R.A and the Pope County H.R.A has had land that they had purchased several years back. That's adjacent to Highway 55 and up on the Hill, but inside of the city limits. And so the city went through and worked to work with the developer and worked with the county H.R.A to first of all do some abatement issues up there, but also to apply for a housing grant through DEED for workforce housing. And we were successful in being from a city standpoint being able to get a grant through deed for the workforce housing development. And so what that they did, is now there's an apartment complex that's going in on top of the hill. I believe there're 32 units in there—one, two and three bedroom units with garages, a playground, that kind of stuff. The developer currently has, I believe, a right of first refusal on the next adjacent property over which the H.R.A also has, knowing that if the housing complex starts to fill up on a good time frame for him, that he's interested in doing a second complex up or expanding that complex. The City of Glenwood — what we did when we applied for that DEED grant, which this study was actually used as part of that application, was to get a grant for the infrastructure so that there was the land that the H.R.A had available and where they were looking to put apartment complexes in the middle of an area that didn't have a road getting to it. So we needed to put a city street in, and need[ed] to get utilities from the edge of town into the center of the property where this complex was going to be. So with regard to that, you know that DEED grant has saved the city and the developer substantial dollars with regard to being able to move forward that development, which definitely helped the developer to do it.
Now I also know that the county H.R.A. has used that study and they've done additional studies over in the City of Starbuck, and they have just completed another housing development in the city of Villard or there's a smaller one over there — I believe it's a smaller group of townhomes. But they're looking at some additional units here too. With regard to the other land they have available here in Glenwood and they've also worked with the city of Lowry with the H.R.A and A.D.A over there and the City of Cyrus, some potential developments in the future there too. So I do know that they're utilizing that study to attract developers and get the interest of developers that are willing to come in and take a look at things and see what do we have available, what it would still need. What's happened since then, in addition to that the H.R.A is in the process right now in partnership with the city of Glenwood and doing a comprehensive housing study with regard to the entire county getting more into the details of what a larger study would be, which we haven't had done since before the economic downturn that they had done prior to that. And I think that's kind of where we started small with a smaller scale study one to get a perspective of do we have enough here to build from and getting the foundation in place for that with Ryan and the Center for Small Towns. But then at the same time, there was a need to turn around and look at a more comprehensive study, which is going to look not just at the workforce housing, which is where Ryan's study came into play, but also look at retirement living, look at low income, or a Section 8 type housing, looking at recreational housing. You know all the different aspects of different things that come into play with the larger studies. And they're in the process right now of we're entering to having that study done too. So definitely did lay a good foundation for moving forward and both for applying for funding through DEED, as well as spurring more growth in the area, and at least knowing that we're doing something, not just talking about a need for housing anymore which is actually things being done.
Christy Kallevig: Well it sounds like you're just very strategic on how each piece has kind of built upon the previous one.
Scott Formo: It's kind of the basis for why we started where we did. And you know being able to go from there, I do think that we've taken several steps since then to address a number of the issues. I mean there are still other things going on too. What we wanted to make sure that we got ahead of you know some of the larger projects and stuff that are coming into the area. Phase One in Starbuck is undergoing some complete streets projects and some different things like that. To vote, you know as well, as to not just fill in the current jobs that are available here. Our hospital just expanded and is adding on a number of jobs and stuff there too. There's a lot of growth and expansion with our current industries, but then we're also always looking to attract and retain new businesses to the area, too. So all these things do come into play when it comes to long term strategic planning. But again, like you stated, you need to have a foundation, something to base it off of, and then from there you just continue to grow and expand out.
Christy Kallevig: Have you heard anything from the businesses that initially brought this concern forward? As far as how if their seeing any changes in their recruitment efforts of new employees or retention of their employees, because of some of these housing developments that have maybe come from the study?
Scott Formo: We've heard a little bit there and we've actually started some additional programs to help work with our local employers in becoming the first county in the state to be certified as an ACT work-graded community and offering the national career readiness certificates and that kind of stuff. A number of other programs have been built off of that initial request for housing. Some of the comments that I have heard is that while the apartment complex on the hill is scheduled to not open till next spring, I know here at the chamber we get at least I would say on average 5 to 10 calls a month asking when they're going to be open, and when we're going to have the contact information available, because they have people that are there looking to move to the community and they're interested. So we've already started working on some of those lists and work with our employers there. The Glenwood Development Corporation Foundation also built a home working with West Central Minnesota Community Action just this past year here in Glenwood. So there's one single family dwelling that's available for sale, and they're interested in doing more. But you know, again, start one time and move forward with that process. But from the employer's standpoint, I think you know there were more issues than just housing, but it seemed as though from what we gathered, housing was the biggest issue to address first. And now that we've got that ball rolling, as a matter of continuing to work on the other aspects it all comes into play to really help our employers. But I do know that with the stuff that's coming up, houses are still selling pretty fast here in Glenwood and in Pope County. I've had a number of people stopping here at the chamber office within the last three to six months. There's a lot of them that say they put their houses on the market and within a week they were sold. I think that was something that was also identified in the study too, Ryan. If I remember correctly that most of the time it might have been the focus groups, but a lot of the times what we were hearing is that the reason they were able to find housing is because they happened to know someone or had a referral prior to it being put on the market or being made public. And because of that I think employers have really started watching the housing market more closely too and when they know something becomes available, if they prospective employee that they want to get into the area or knows that they want to come to the area and they want to keep that you know they're very quick to pass information on and try to help them.
Christy Kallevig: And you both mentioned as well the idea that you couldn't just go in and build until you knew what you needed, as well as the concept of kind of "incentivizing" building for construction builders in that area. As these developments have come about, there is more interest in building more housing. Are you seeing changes even in just how builders are thinking about this? Are they looking at it as a way that they can be profitable, or is it still a focus for them on those beautiful executive level homes? I liked that phrase, Ryan.
Scott Formo: I think one of the things that we've seen is that, Ryan identified this earlier too, from the study is that we've got a lot of contractors with us in the area that build homes. But they were focusing a little bit more on some of the larger-type homes outside of the area and that kind of stuff — bigger projects. There's a lot of bigger projects coming to play with our contractors, whether it be business expansion or housing in general. Some of the ones that have come in now like this complex here in Glenwood is going up, Forest Ridge Apartments. DW Jones is the one that is working with that complex. They've done a number of housing complexes outside of our community. This is just the first one that they've done in Pope County. But they've got many housing units across the state, and because of that, I think what we're doing is we're drawing some attention to some of the larger developers from outside of the area, while still being able to work with our local contractors on making sure that they're staying employed and that kind of stuff. It's also another one of the things similar to what some of our businesses were telling us is that there's a demand that's here for it. And there's kind of a shortage of workers that same point in time. Where do you start? I mean as far as you know is it the housing issue, is it the services and business issue. Is it the cost of living there. There's a number of different things there and we just try to tackle the issues one at a time and I do think that there has been some momentum; in fact, there have been some great partnerships built with regards to our government agencies to city and county partnerships working with our local H.R.As and A.D.As in not only Glenwood, but the surrounding communities. You know there still is that sense of everybody pulling together to try to find ways so that everybody works together to get the job done. They were together in the planning and then they all benefit in the outcomes also.
Christy Kallevig: What are some pieces of advice or insights that you might be able to offer other communities that are trying to figure out how to tackle this issue of housing within their own community? What is something that you've learned or found valuable that you could share with them?
Ryan Pesch: You know, the number one thing I would say is it's been my experience working with a large mix of communities that so often the conversation only exists amongst the people that end up in the room. And I would say that's just not good enough. I think what this project points to, as opposed to guessing what you think, other people think, you ought to just ask them what they think. And in this instance that's what we did, as opposed to saying, "Well, we think this is a large issue. We think this is you know, keeping so that our employees do want to move here, and our employees want X, Y, and Z." Instead, let's just ask the employees. And I think that's what's most important. So I think that cuts across a lot of our economic development issues too often it might be the same 6–8 people guessing what other parts of the community think. Let's just go ask them. This is just an example of that, and I think it's had some benefit.
Scott Formo: I would agree with that. I mean, I think from one of the things that I was very pleased about with the entire process is the collaboration that we had with different communities coming together to say, "You know what — we're all one county. We have people who live here, work there, work here" and different things like that. But, you know, I've been very pleased in the overall process that we've taken undertaken and bringing those groups together to [ask] what are the issues that you think are out there. Whether it's nonprofit organizations, businesses, [or] government leaders, it's a combination of anyone who wants to be involved. We'd love to take you and have you be part of the discussion in stuff like one going through and gathering the research, doing some strategic planning, and knowing that we can't solve all of the problems at one time. But one at a time, we can address them and find the overlap. And then when we have areas that are overlapping, they might be able to find a little bit of a benefit to another area and it might be intended or unintended. But a lot of that overlap will help provide benefits and stuff there too. Like Ryan said, one of the biggest important things is engaging the overall community, and you do need to have, in my opinion, a pretty good mixture of the different kinds of personalities, mindsets, and what people take in as far as what is their standard of living. Whether it's a stay-at-home mom or day care provider, whether it's a CEO of a large company, no matter what. If its is a school bus driver, you know we need to have a different outlooks on what is important in their life, what do they contribute to the community, and what are they looking for out of the community? And then last, but not least, you know the one thing that frustrates me when it happens and I've tried really hard to overcome that as much as we can — the lack of taking action. Once you actually have all that done, you've identified the problem, you found some solutions and you start to do things, then you just really need to step up in and get some groups going at it and hand it off and say, "Okay, here you go. Here's the information you need to get it going." Now how do we take action and actually seeing things get done? Because you can talk about it and talk about it and talk about it all you want but until people start seeing things actually happening and taking place it doesn't become a reality. And you don't want it to get to a point that people are talking about that again but nothing ever changes and changes could sometimes when it's finding productive ways to address issues and working together on that.
Christy Kallevig: Have you noticed any changes in the energy within your community since you've seen some action like you've talked about?
Scott Formo: That actually, when you look at it, there's good and bad, and it's good to see both sides of that point off. You know there's a lot of people [who] say that these things happen, and there's other people that aren't so excited because they would have rather seen a different approach taken, or it might compete with an idea that they had, or you know, different things like that. And those are all things that come into play too. But there have definitely been a lot of discussion and a lot of our reaction to the action the steps that are being taken. And like I said, there are always really good ways to utilize the resources that are out there, too, and I will say that Ryan and the Center for Small Towns is a great resource to have in our area. And we're glad that they were able to step up and help us when we were looking to get these things going. So, thank you to Ryan.
Ryan Pesch: Thank you, Scott. [I] appreciate it.
Christy Kallevig: Well, thank you both so much for giving me some time out of your day and joining us to discuss this important topic.
Scott Formo: Thank you.
Ryan Pesch: Thanks.
Christy Kallevig: To learn more about Glenwood in Pope County visit www.Glenwoodlakesarea.org. You can learn more about University of Minnesota Extension Center for Community Vitality by visiting us at www.extension.umn.edu/community. Make sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter and stay up to date on new research and resources for communities and those who lead them. Thank you for joining us for this episode. We hope that you will join us again in the future for another episode of Vital Connections on Air.
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