2016 Rural Pulse™ Snapshot: Central Minnesota
Rural Pulse™ is a research study commissioned by the Grand Rapids-based Blandin Foundation to gain a real-time snapshot of the concerns, perceptions and priorities of rural Minnesota residents. This initiative was last conducted in 2013 and has served to identify trends within significant, complex subject areas including the economy, education, employment and quality of life.
In completing this comprehensive research study, 1,144 telephone interviews were conducted with rural Minnesotans.
To provide a localized perspective, study findings for Central Minnesota are included in the following pages. “Overall” on all statistical charts represents comparative results from rural Minnesota as a whole.
While many residents in rural Minnesota feel positive about their community in 2016, that sentiment has declined compared to 2013.
Two-thirds of residents in Central Minnesota feel their community is vibrant, and even more believe that they are resilient and able to recover from difficult situations. Fewer believe that they are able to contribute to their community’s future, though four in five still feel they can make a positive impact.
More than seven in 10 feel their community works together cohesively.
Four in five residents in Central Minnesota feel that access to basic community services is equal for all residents. The service areas of greatest concern, however, are improving internet, diverse cultural and arts, and public transportation.
Most Central Minnesotans feel parents are responsible for educational opportunities, though many also believe the government holds this obligation.
Most feel quality of life will improve within the next five years and are optimistic about their community’s future.
Many residents in Central Minnesota have concern that the needs of regional communities are not important to lawmakers. More than half feel supporting political candidates who address rural issues is of high importance.
More than a third feel the local economy has improved within the past year, a significant increase from 2013 findings.
While there is sentiment that the condition of the economy has improved in Central Minnesota, concerns about jobs still top the priority list. The most critical issues to address for Central Minnesota residents are said to be attracting new business, growing local job opportunities, crime and educational opportunities.
Nearly half (46%) still feel that there are insufficient living-wage jobs; however, this represents a positive upswing compared to 2013. Many feel that regional communities do not maintain/grow job opportunities (29%) and even more believe that there are not enough new businesses being started locally (43%).
Most believe improved internet could assist local economy. While many are aware of local resources to help find employment, there is belief that resources to help start new businesses are lacking.
A third of residents in Central Minnesota say their household income has increased over past year. Fourteen percent say they have experienced a job loss within their household.
Eighteen percent do not expect to live in their same community five years from now, and 19 percent have considered moving to a larger city. Many say quality of life is the motivating factor for considering migration, followed closely by job opportunities. Other reasons listed, in addition to educational opportunities, include being closer to family, among others.
Half feel the population has become more diverse in recent years in Central Minnesota; however, many do not believe their community is welcoming – showing a significant decrease from 2013 findings. Two-thirds feel there is acceptance of differences within their community, such as ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion and nationality.
There is a perception that community leadership is not inclusive. Two in five say they have served in a leadership capacity, a decrease from 2013 findings. A third say that they would definitely consider serving in leadership if asked.