What’s Next for Minnesota Communities?

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July 19, 2011; Source: Duluth News Tribune | The NPQ Newswire has provided extensive coverage on what the Minnesota government shutdown has meant for nonprofits, and in a recent opinion piece in the Duluth News Tribune, a foundation leader adds his concerns regarding the nature of the ongoing financial debates.

The government shutdown is finally on track to end today after Gov. Mark Dayton called the Legislature into a special session Tuesday to vote on a budget deal.

Thomas Renier, president of the Northland Foundation in Duluth, notes that for decades he and his fellow Minnesotans were “proud of our strong infrastructure, social and human services, innovation, economic growth and public education, including a higher education system that produced a top-notch work force.” Citing the Minnesota Miracle of 1971 that had “everything to do with a bipartisan, cooperative public-private effort that was supported by considerable public investment,” Renier emphasizes that his state’s “homegrown success story” was not an accident but instead the product of concerted planning.

Although he points out that, “Minnesota is well known for its generosity and its many major foundations,” he adds that combined state-wide philanthropic giving from individuals, foundations and businesses only adds up to about 5 percent of total public sector support. “Many of the most capable nonprofit organizations whose work makes our communities so special are slated for damaging cuts,” Renier observes.

In light of this information he asks for what he calls an “about face” in the state-wide conversation. “Let’s start by working together to build a vision of a Minnesota where we, our children and our grandchildren will want to live, and continue by making the bold investments needed to achieve it,” he said.—Anne Eigeman