Gut-check time for Minnesota towns

Amid a squeezed economy, inexorable demographics and declining state and federal help for local governments, some 200 people are gathering in Morris, Minn., tonight and Thursday to talk about small towns and the future.

The University of Minnesota’s Center for Small Towns, housed on the Morris campus, is combining with Minnesota Rural Partners Inc., to host the gathering, titled “Finding Solutions and Redefining Communities.”

Highlights:

–Minnesota Rural Partners is hosting a gathering at 6:30 this evening at the Prairie Inn in Morris to focus on the creation of a council that would find ways to form rural-urban partnerships, focusing especially on education, workforce and entrepreneurship.

–Minnesota governor candidates will participate in a forum on public policy and small towns. MPR News’ Kate Smith is hosting.

–Colleen Landkamer, Minnesota State Director for USDA Rural Development and former President of the National Association of Counties is speaking.

–People from a variety of small towns will talk about how they have tackled housing, jobs, immigration and other challenges and opportunities.

The session this evening is free. You can register for the daylong symposium Thursday for $65.

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