Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities Holds Summer Conference In Bemidji
The Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities’s annual three-day summer conference moves around each year.
This year, it’s held at the Sanford Center in Bemidji. The organization represents 97 communities outside of the Twin Cities Metropolitan area. The executive director of CGMC says the conference has multiple purposes.
“Part of it is to recap the previous legislative session, celebrate our successes with our members and supportive legislators. The conference moves around and so it’s an opportunity for communities like Bemidji to highlight all of the great things that they’ve got going on here in the city,” Bradley Peterson said.
The coalition’s purpose is to educate legislators about the issues that are important to Minnesotans. CMGC has been around for over 30 years, and during this year’s three-day summer conference there were various panel discussions and a keynote presentation. Topics ranged from growing Minnesota’s future workforce to the housing policies in the state and how to improve them.
“When you talk to city officials and they talk about what’s holding back growth in their communities and it’s lack of housing,” Peterson said. “It’s sort of up and down the spectrum, we hear a lot of folks who really have issues in their communities with homelessness and that’s just base level taken care of your basic needs, but the real acute issues in a lot of communities has to do with workforce housing.”
This past year, the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities has been working with legislators on childcare around the state, water infrastructure, and local government aid.
“So the biggest thing we worked on this last year was local government aid. It’s the money that goes to cities around the state to help with their operations,” Peterson said.
“We increased it by $26 million, we’ll increase it another $4 million next year that will get local government aid back to its 2002 levels of $564 million a year. And that program is crucial,” Representative Paul Marquart (DFL), District 4B, said.
Local government aid helps keep taxes down and important services like law enforcement and fire departments and street maintenance running. Along with the legislative panel discussions and presentations, members attending the conference have also been touring Bemidji to see what the city has to offer.
The coalition works on matters like economic development, environmental issues, transportation and land use all from a greater Minnesota perspective.