Webinar to explore what happens to the rural workforce during a pandemic

The Center for Rural Policy and Development (CRPD) is gathering a panel of experts to discuss the findings of its latest research, Pandemic paints a different employment picture in rural Minnesota.”  Join the webinar from 2:30-4 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 21 as they explore the current realities of unemployment, the ongoing problem of high job vacancies in rural Minnesota, and the possibilities created by their convergence. They will also be looking at recommendations to help move rural Minnesota forward on positive footing.

Register for the webinar here.

If you have any questions, please email crpd@ruralmn.org.

Center for Rural Policy and Development features GMNP on podcast

Last week, the Center for Rural Policy and Development (CRPD) released the latest version of its podcast “Center of Everywhere” featuring an in depth conversation with GMNP Executive Director Scott McMahon. 

Hosted by CRPD President and CEO Julie Tesch, the conversation included how the GMNP got started, 2021 policy priorities, and an insight into what the 2021 legislative session has in store for Greater Minnesota. You can listen to the podcast here.

Gov. Walz loosens restrictions on businesses

On Wednesday, Gov. Walz held a press conference to announce Minnesota will be loosening many of its previous COVID-19 restrictions and closures. The announcement comes as more than 80,000 people have received their first dose of the vaccine and new cases of COVID-19 in the state decrease. These changes will go into effect Sunday, Jan. 10 at 11:59 p.m.: 

  • Indoor dining at restaurants may resume at 50% capacity with 150 people max. 
    • Parties of no more than six people must remain at least 6 feet away from other parties. 
    • Reservations required. 
  • Bars may allow for parties of two, seated and with at least 6 feet between parties 

Greater Minnesota Partnership selects Scott McMahon to serve as executive director

For Immediate Release
Contact: Julie Liew
PDF of press release

ST. PAUL—Scott McMahon has been selected by the Greater Minnesota Partnership (GMNP) Board of Directors to serve as the organization’s executive director.

Created in 2013, GMNP is a nonprofit corporation devoted to advocating for state economic development policies and resources that benefit Greater Minnesota. It has more than 60 members consisting of businesses, chambers of commerce, economic development authorities, colleges and universities, cities and nonprofits from throughout Greater Minnesota.

As executive director, McMahon will help direct GMNP’s efforts to advocate for state policies and programs that foster economic development in Greater Minnesota. He replaces Dan Dorman, who stepped down from the post this year after leading the organization since its inception. Continue reading

Task Force recommends spending $120M to bring broadband to unserved households

The Governor’s Broadband Task Force has released its annual report and funding recommendations to the Legislature.

The Task Force is recommending $120 million for the next biennium. This recommendation is based on the projected cost to bring broadband service to the 157,000 unserved households (defined as not meeting 25 mbps upload speed/3 mbps download speed) in Minnesota. The report also notes that many of these households are very difficult to serve, especially without a provider willing to apply for and use a grant. Future spending will require service that meets or exceeds the state’s 2026 broadband speed goal of 100 mpbs upload/25 mbps download speeds. Continue reading

GMNP Board adopts 2021 legislative priorities

At its December meeting, the Partnership’s Board of Directors approved the Partnership’s legislative priorities for the 2021 session. While the policy priorities will not change this year, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a new demand for action on two of our top priorities—access to and speed of internet service throughout Greater Minnesota, and stabilizing and growing our child care industry.

As the pandemic took hold and families parents found themselves working from home and their children learning from home, Minnesotans and policy leaders finally bore witness to what insufficient internet access in Greater Minnesota means: connectivity issues for people working from home and children in distance learning, and students in fast food restaurant parking lots using free wifi. 

Continue reading

Legislature passes COVID relief bill

The Legislature convened this week for its seventh—and final—special session of 2020, triggered by Gov. Walz’s extension of his emergency order due to the COVID-19 pandemic. When gathered on Monday, the Legislature passed a bill that provides significant grants for businesses impacted by the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as increased unemployment benefits for displaced workers. The Governor signed the bill on Wednesday.

The legislation provides $216 million in relief for businesses directly or indirectly impacted by the business shutdowns or capacity reductions that have occurred since April. Of that amount, $88 million will be provided to bars, restaurants, breweries/wineries/distilleries, fitness centers, and bowling alleys via direct payments from the Department of Revenue. Payments will be between $10,000 and $45,000 per qualified business based on the number of employees. To be eligible, a business must have experienced a 30% reduction in taxable receipts between April 1, 2020 through Sept. 30, 2020 when compared to the same time period in 2019. These checks will be processed in the coming weeks.

Continue reading

Legislature in sync on COVID relief for businesses, but still no agreement on unemployment benefits

The Legislature will reconvene Monday for its seventh special session of 2020 due to Gov. Walz authorizing another one-month extension of his COVID-19 emergency order. It is anticipated that the Legislature will pass a relief package aimed at businesses and employees impacted by the latest executive order that has closed or reduced operations for bars and restaurants, fitness centers, bowling alleys and other businesses. Although a global agreement has not been reached, the issues on the table include (but are not limited to) grants to businesses, extension of unemployment benefits, and emergency grants for child care providers.

On Thursday, the House Ways and Means Committee and Senate Jobs and Economic Development Committee held informational hearings on the various pieces being negotiated. The proposal that appears to have the highest level of bipartisan, bicameral support is $216.5 million in relief for businesses impacted by the latest executive order enacted Nov. 18. This includes: Continue reading

State’s budget forecast better than expected

This week, the state released its first official state budget forecast since the start of the pandemic. It was a surprise when it was announced that the state has a projected $641 million surplus for the remainder of the current biennium, which ends June 30, 2021.

As the pandemic took hold in Minnesota, when many businesses were forced to close or operate at reduced capacity, and the state’s unemployment rate increased to 9.9 percent, the state prepared an unofficial budget projection that showed an anticipated $2.4 billion deficit for the current biennium. Since then, revenues have come in higher than anticipated and state spending has been lower than expected. For example, sales taxes are forecasted to be $808 million (7.6%) more than was originally calculated. On the expense side, state spending on health and human services is down $919 million largely due to the federal government covering more healthcare costs tied the pandemic emergency orders. Spending on K-12 is down $118 million in large part due to students enrolling in private schools or homeschooling or families delaying kindergarten enrollment.

Continue reading

Webinar to explore the economic impact of the child care crisis

Finance and Commerce is hosting a webinar on Dec. 3 that will provide a deep dive into the child care crisis in Minnesota. A panel of experts will discuss the latest state and national data, followed by a discussion on the challenges Minnesota faces and the solutions being implemented to address the crisis.
 
Participating in the panel are several experts with whom both the CGMC and the Greater Minnesota Partnership work closely, including:

  • Chad Dunkley, CEO of New Horizons Academy
  • Rob Grunewald, economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis
  • Debra Marofsky, president of Affiliated Insurance Services
  • Suzanne Pearly, Minnesota director at First Children’s Finance

The webinar, “Child Care in Crisis: The Economic Impact,” will be on Dec. 3 from 11:45 a.m. – 1 p.m. Registration is free, and you can sign up at us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_jf1uw9qTSHK6Hs2IQn29Jw.