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January 13, 2017

Grocery stores: Minnesota's haves and have-nots

Fresh produce is becoming less available in Minnesota's food deserts as a staggering loss of grocery stores close, particularly in rural Minnesota. In the Star Tribune, Kathy Draeger, statewide program director of Extension's Rural Sustainable Development Partnerships, shares how our research points to a growing problem -- and how efforts underway to stem the losses can make a difference.

"Not only does the future health of Minnesota depend on it, so does the economic health of so many of our communities," she writes.

January 12, 2017

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics video features Andrew Doherty, Extension SNAP-Ed educator

EatRightTV, the YouTube channel of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, recently featured Andrew Doherty, a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) educator and a registered dietitian-nutritionist with University of Minnesota Extension.

"I find it important to work with low-income individuals because those are the people most at risk for nutrition deficiencies and health-related conditions," says Doherty in the video. "Being able to work hands-on with those who have the most nutritional needs is very fulfilling to me."

Governor Mark Dayton has proclaimed January as SNAP-Ed Month. Visit the SNAP-Ed website to learn more about the program. 

December 13, 2016

Volunteers use biosurveillance to find emerald ash borer

Holding a Cerceris
By Amy Rager, Extension educator, Fish, Wildlife & Conservation Education

The Wasp Watchers Program is a University of Minnesota Extension citizen science project that engages volunteers in the biosurveillance of Emerald Ash Borer (EAB). Emerald Ash Borer is an invasive wood boring beetle that has destroyed tens of millions of ash trees in over 20 states.

December 12, 2016

Video: Season's Greetings from University of Minnesota Extension

As we prepare for a new year, we want to thank you for helping Extension create a stronger Minnesota in 2016. Below, please enjoy a video highlighting Extension Dean Bev Durgan's year of visiting all 87 counties to see and share the many ways that Extension connects with communities, partners and the University to address issues that matter most.

November 22, 2016

Thank you, Minnesota!

During the Thanksgiving season, University of Minnesota Extension would like to express our appreciation for your friendship, your collaboration with us, your gifts and support, your work and volunteer contributions, and so much more.


November 17, 2016

Rural communities can foster transition to new business ownership

Media Contact: Allison Sandve, University of Minnesota Extension media relations manager, 612-626-4077 (office), 651-492-0811,; Bruce Schwartau, Extension community economics program leader, 507-536-6308 (office), 507-251-8553 (mobile),

ST. PAUL, Minn. (11/17/2016)—Rural Minnesota depends on its Mom ‘n Pop businesses, its mid- and large-sized employers and everything in between. When local business owners seek to retire—as they are in increasing numbers—communities can do more to help them with a successful transition, according to a new study by the University of Minnesota Extension Center for Community Vitality.

“Two-thirds of American small businesses are owned by baby boomers. That means change is coming to Main Streets throughout Minnesota,” said Bruce Schwartau, leader of Extension’s community economics program.

To help communities better understand and support business transitions, Extension studied business succession in Greater Minnesota cities with fewer than 7,500 residents. The April survey gathered insights into successful business transfers from 118 current business owners who took the reins between 2008 and 2012. In-depth interviews then were conducted with seven business owners to learn more about their experiences. The study also examined community efforts related to business succession in two Minnesota towns—Barnesville in Clay County and Spring Valley in Fillmore County—as well as Cando and Bowdon, N.D.

New ownership can help local economies, the study found. Eighty-seven percent of the respondents maintained or increased the number of employees after purchasing the business. Sixty-eight percent reported increasing sales volume and customer base. Half of the new business owners were new to town or had returned home; the other half had lived in town their whole life.

Some seeking to take the reins of businesses hit roadblocks, mainly in securing financing and obtaining accurate records from previous owners. It’s essential, Schwartau said, for local bankers and accountants to be thoroughly engaged in the community. Closer connections to rural Minnesota among business brokers and trade associations would help, he added.

“Many business owners have no succession plan in place -- no one identified to take over and no plan for making their business attractive to buyers,” Schwartau said. “Community leaders can also help by encouraging conversations about business succession and connecting business owners to resources such as business valuation services and brokerage services.”

In Barnesville, Economic Development Authority executive director Karen Lauer worked with Extension’s Business Retention and Expansion strategies program. The effort led the community to work better as a team with local businesses to help businesses plan for succession.

“What we didn’t really understand is how business owners view their decisions as personal – and yet those decisions can have a major impact on a town. So that underscores the need to cooperate and collaborate through a whole new different conversation,” she said.

Added Schwartau: “When outgoing and incoming owners and their communities work together well, the transition, the ‘reset button,’ can benefit everyone.”

The fully study is here. It excluded grocery stores in Greater Minnesota, which were recently studied by Extension’s Regional Sustainable Development Partnership. Medical practices, which are frequently part of larger regional health care organizations, also were not included.

For more news from U of M Extension, visit or contact Extension Communications at University of Minnesota Extension is an equal opportunity educator and employer.

School Success website from Extension helps families, schools and communities

A new School Success website from University of Minnesota Extension offers the latest research and easy-to-use tools to support children's learning from kindergarten through 12th grade.

The website has resources for both families and professionals. “Strong partnerships between parents and school, and between schools and their communities, are the foundation for our children's success,” said Silvia Alvarez de Davila, Extension educator in family resiliency.
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