10th Annual Minnesota Rural Summit Will Help Communities "Thrive by Design"

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Join Minnesota's community leaders from around the state at the 10th annual Minnesota Rural Summit, May 10 & 11, 2007, at Cragun's Resort & Conference Center, in Brainerd, Minnesota.

Join Minnesota's community leaders from around the state at the 10th annual Minnesota Rural Summit, May 10 & 11, 2007, at Cragun's Resort & Conference Center, in Brainerd, Minnesota. The 2007 theme, Thriving by Design, will highlight how in the emerging design economy, design principles can be used to integrate complex economic, demographic, physical and social issues into clear strategies that position communities, regions and the state to thrive well into the 21st century. The conference is being held in May to highlight the fact that Minnesota will celebrate its statehood Sesquicentennial exactly one year later (May 11, 2008), and will show how design and planning have figured into Minnesota's past, present, and future.

What does design have to do with community and economic development, the usual mainstays of past Minnesota Rural Summits? The design-based economy is emerging now as communities and businesses turn to the innovations, problem-solving methods, and interdisciplinary creative processes of design to compete and thrive in an ever more complex and sophisticated world.

The 10th annual Rural Summit will look back at the past Summit themes and topics -- closing the digital divide, health care & economic development, energizing entrepreneurs, leveraging new agriculture and renewable energy, innovation, and boosting human capital -- with a look ahead at the trends and forecasts in these areas and more.

Summit presenters will introduce the process and context of design to wrap these seemingly unrelated challenges and opportunities together into a manageable whole, suggesting that without investments in planning and design, our communities and our state will simply not thrive up against an increasingly strong global economy.

"Minnesota is poised to observe its 150th anniversary of statehood one year from now," said Jane Leonard, President of Minnesota Rural Partners and the Summit chair. "The 2007 Summit will help begin a year of planning and preparation, as a way to reflect on our heritage and accomplishments thus far, and perhaps more importantly, prepare for a demanding future in which we can thrive by design."

Prior to the Summit, several partner organizations including the Minnesota Design Team, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the University of Minnesota Center for Rural Design will host a design competition and showcase the resulting ideas at the Rural Summit. The Thriving by Design competition would seek answers to the following question, meant not necessarily to be taken literally, but to allow imagination and creativity to soar: "After 150 years of statehood, knowing what we know now and the tools we have, combined with the ingenuity of our people, and facing the global pressures around us, how would you 'design' Minnesota today to carry on with our high quality of life well in the 21st century?" More information on the competition is available at http://www.minnesotaruralpartners.org/2007_summit/competition.htm.

To further reinforce the importance of planning and design in Minnesota communities, Summit organizers are inviting all of the nearly 100 Minnesota Design Team (MDT) towns to attend the Summit, with the enticement of one free Summit registration per MDT community. To see a list of the MDT communities in Minnesota, go to http://www.minnesotadesignteam.org.

The Rural Summit, Thriving by Design Competition and MDT scholarships are sponsored by several funding organizations, including the Blandin Foundation, Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, Initiative Foundation, Minnesota Power, the Freeman Forum, AgStar Financial Services, the Greater Minnesota Housing Fund, the Minnesota Association of Cooperatives Education Foundation, and the Cooperative Foundation. Nearly thirty different organizations are supporting the Summit as well by serving as members of the Planning Team. More sponsors and exhibitors are sought for the Summit. For more information, go to http://www.minnesotaruralpartners.org/2007_summit.

The Rural Summit registration fee is $185 before April 1. The rate goes to $200 until May 1, and then $225 thereafter. Sign up now to get the early bird rate, at http://www.minnesotaruralpartners.org/2007_summit or call 507-828-5559 or 651-645-9403 for more information.

Agenda Highlights

*Keynote: an overview of Community Design & the Changing American Landscape: Social, Political, and Economic Forces. By Dr. Arthur Mehrhoff, formerly with St. Cloud State University, and now based in Columbia, Missouri. He was a leader for many years with the Minnesota Design Team and is the author of "Community Design" A Team Approach to Dynamic Community Systems."

*Special Presentation of "The Making of Minnesota 1840 to 1878 - Lessons for Rural Enterprise in the 21st century." - Jim Ramstrom, MN Department of Administration.

*"Heads Up" Sessions on Minnesota's Present & Future Trends: State Economist Tom Stinson on the economy, State Demographer Tom Gillaspy on state demographics, and panelists on agriculture and renewable energy, information and communications technology, health care, education, housing, transportation.

*Invitation to the Minnesota Sesquicentennial by Cay Shea Hellervik, chair of the Minnesota Sesquicentennial Commission.

*Thriving by Design Competition winners announced and recognized.

*Overview of design, planning & development online tools for economic and community decision-making and progress.

*Design & Planning Blueprint Development for Minnesota into the Next Generation. Citizen engagement initiatives to help chart Minnesota's future.

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