What a great August this has been! 25 counties in 25 days. There are few things better than getting out to all four corners of our state to talk with Minnesotans about their lives and their communities; what makes them hopeful and what worries them -- and what we can do to make sure every part of our state is positioned to prosper in the next decade. And as usual I returned home energized and hopeful after seeing so many people making a difference across our state.
If there is one shared goal among folks from the Iron Range to small towns in southern Minnesota it is this: Let's make sure that our communities aren't fading - but instead thriving -- by keeping young people in town, attracting new families, and drawing in and expanding new, cutting edge businesses.
The good news is that the ideas are there. I met with business leaders in Faribault who are working to reshape education in their community by encouraging hands-on, applied high-level learning in the classroom. I heard from folks in Albert Lea that they have businesses that want to expand, but lack the housing necessary to attract and keep potential employees in town. We can fix that. I was joined by the Mayor and Fire Chief in Moorhead to highlight the need to improve the safety of rail crossings in their city and across the state.
And I heard a lot about the need for border-to-border broadband, something we take for granted in many parts of the state. In Morris, we heard about a woman who lost her job and had to drive in 20 miles every day just to get on a computer to apply for new ones. Young students have to make the same drive to the local library just to finish their homework. The Kandiyohi County businessman who moved his business 60 miles into the next county with better high-speed Internet access simply to be able to compete. Delores in Willmar captured it perfectly: "Even if you have broadband, you miss out if others don't and you can't connect with them." We all have a stake in each other's success.
Finally, I had the chance to end my travels with an incredible rally in Virginia is support of the Steelworkers who are fighting for a fair contract that recognizes the fact that they are among the best, most efficient workers in the world. Thousands of men, women, and kids showed up to demonstrate their strength and their willingness to work hard, but also stand up for what is right for their families and their community. That's true Minnesota spirit.
I so appreciate the chance to work with all of you to make Minnesota an ever better place to live, work, and raise a family. See you down the road!
Posted on Tue, August 25, 2015
by Paul Thissen