The UMVRDC has facilitated a group of regional economic development professionals looking for strategies to attract and retain higher skill, higher wage demographics in the region. Based off of the UMVRDC’s 5-year assessment that was sent out to all of the Local Units of Government within Region 6W, the TOP issue identified was marketing our communities/area to attract new residents, workers and families.
According to research completed in our region Ben Winchester, a Research Fellow at the University of MN Extension Center for Community Vitality suggests that most rural Minnesota counties including those in Region 6W are really experiencing a “brain gain”. Statistics show that although our bright and talented youth are leaving for college there is an influx of 35-44 year olds that are coming into the region bringing their education, experience, wealth and children.
Many of them are not coming for a job nor have family ties, many are just looking for better quality of life and are willing to leave a higher paying job in the cities for the what the rural areas have to offer. The notion of people coming into the region on their own got a few economic developers thinking, what if we started marketing to this demographic? Would more people come? Would more people stay?
Work completed to date includes:
- Focus groups with new residents in the region to understand influential factors in their decision to move to our region.
- A mail survey was done to ask additional new residents about their influential factors.
- An economic impact analysis of newcomers based on data collected form surveys and focus groups.
- An analysis of where the highest concentration of potential new residents exists in Minnesota.
- An analysis of the online presence of businesses in all 37 cities in the region.
- A report called “Regional Recruitment: Strategies to Attract and Retain Newcomers” that can be found on the EDA Center website.
To see all of the RDC”s work on Regional Recruitment, see UMVRDC Regional Recruitment Efforts.
Our regional team has been fortunate to receive support and assistance from the University of Minnesota including: Extension, Crookston EDA Center, Morris Center for Small Towns Students in Service Intern, Center for Urban and Regional Affairs Community Assistance Program Intern.
Get Rural MN “Quietly Beautiful & Wildly Connected”
“Get Rural MN” is a regional recruitment effort focusing on branding and marketing the region while enticing new comers to live, work, and play within the region. This project is led by the UMVRDC while partnering with local chambers, economic development professionals, and local regional advocates. This project will be completed in multiple different phases.
Phase I Goals (June 30th, 2015 – June 30th, 2016) included the following:
- Convened local chambers, economic development professionals, and local regional advocates to determine the regional goals and strategies.
- Worked with Freelance Management Consultant, Christie Dick, who lead the group through an asset building and awareness process where we were able to developed a regional logo/brand – all cities with a population of over 1000 have agreed to adopt the new brand.
- Boost the region’s online presence by collecting new photos, videos, interviews and stories of the region through the “Visitor for the Day” Campaign. All cities and counties will have the opportunity to access all of the new content and materials through an online file sharing platform (coming soon).
- Created and released a regional promotional video (click here to view) and encouraged all of the cities and counties to share on all of their social media platforms and embed into their websites.
Phase II Goals (June 30th, 2016 – June 30th, 2017) consists of the following:
- Consult with imagery experts on the legality of capturing photos and videos while creating an open source inventory (coming soon) for all communities to access, as we continue to collect new photos, videos, interviews and stories of the region.
- Design and integrate the new message into new and existing platforms (Websites, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest).
- Create an awareness of the messaging and imagery to our regional business especially realtors. Use our new messages as tools that can help with visitor information, employee attraction and retention and create new business opportunities.
- Expand the Prairie Waters Regional Tourism Program by offering a new membership benefit of a “Lifestyle & Tourism Snapshot” of their community (new photos and stories captured through the Visitor for a Day Campaign). The interactive online snapshot can be embedded onto websites and easily shared on any social media platform (Click here to see an example).
- Explore technologies/portals/mobile applications that can house all of this work in one place – at the end of Phase II our goal is to have a plan for a regional portal/addition to the Prairie Waters website.
Get Rural Meeting Recap: 12/6/16
The regional recruitment efforts continue on as Phase II of the Get Rural project kicked off with a meeting on December 6th. There were economic development and chamber professionals representing all corners of the region. The meeting showcased the NEW regional promotional videos that were shot this summer/fall. A discussion followed on how the communities have been utilizing the new message/logo on their websites, email signatures, and social media platforms. UMVRDC staff explained how to access the online imagery library through Dropbox. Click here to access the Dropbox folder and anyone can quickly download any of the photos/videos and use on their website, brochures, ads or with any other marketing purposes.
Guest speaker John Schultz, Explore Minnesota Tourism Marketing Strategy Manager, presented on the legality of taking, sharing, and promoting imagery. John hit on the following topics: capturing photos at private vs. public spaces, third party usage, consent forms, and copyright usage.
Phase II of the Get Rural project will focus on sharing new imagery and exploring a lifestyle portal for the region. As part of this phase economic development and chamber staff will gain access to the inventory of new imagery giving them a new tool in their toolbox to promote the region. Together, the group will explore different types of portals and develop a concept for a regional platform that links to regional resources and showcases lifestyles, opportunities and specific areas of interest such as entertainment, schools and housing information. The next meeting will focus on the strategy and development of a potential online portal where all of the Get Rural work would be housed (Prairie Waters website).
Get Rural Meeting Recap: 2/22/17
The main purpose of this meeting was to envision the expansion of the Prairie Waters Regional Tourism website with the regional recruitment efforts. UMVRDC Staff have had conversations since 2010 of providing valuable information that would make it easier for a newcomer to move to our our region. Based off of the previous work and working with the Get Rural Committee, the top categories identified were employment opportunities, housing, education and healthcare.
With this, UMVRDC Staff have had multiple conversations with Vivid Image, Web Developer & Marketing Specialists, to envision how we could incorporate this information into the well-developed and supported regional brand and marketing system already in place, the Prairie Waters website. Steve Gasser, Vivid Image President, presented an overall proposal of adding onto the Prairie Waters website which would include new tabs with information on the following: Employment Opportunities, Housing, Family Essentials and Stories.
The next steps will be determining the 2017-2018 work plan and funding opportunities to continue this momentuem.
Follow “Get Rural MN” on Facebook to receive the most recent updates (Click here to follow). Want updates emailed to you? Email email@example.com to get on our emailing list. Be sure to follow Get Rural on Instagram and Pinterest! Let’s all work together on putting our region on the map and promoting the rural lifestyle through sharing the new logo, video, and hashtags! After all, living in Western Minnesota is quietly beautiful and wildly connected!
The first two phases of this project are made possible through the Blandin Foundation and the UMVRDC.
- Center for Small Towns Partnership on April 4, 2017
- Western Minnesota at a Glimpse! New Videos Released! on December 12, 2016
- Tell us your story! on March 23, 2016
- Get Rural! on March 21, 2016
- “Rural Newcomers” Trend Reported in Star Tribune on June 13, 2012