I was lucky to attend a conference on economic development put on by the Economic Development Association of Minnesota (EDAM - actually, I attended Thursday and Ben will attend on Friday).  While there were a few old and worn out ideas, it was great to hear plenty of new thoughts that I think are in touch with our current economic realities.  It gives me hope that good people are coming up with new approaches and revising old ones to better fit this new world we live in.  Cheers to EDAM!

Here's this week's news digest.

  • I've actually been fortunate enough to talk to a number of small-town bankers about how the current economic crisis is hitting them and the towns they work in. I have yet to run into one that suggests the potential for disaster. I actually get a lot of "business as usual" banter. This article would suggest my sampling has been small or I have not gotten the full story.
  • As the economic problems in the private sector reverberate into government, it is inevitiable that government staff reductions will follow. It is important to keep in mind that, while this is an option for large cities with big staffs, it is less of an option for small cities. Many small cities have one or two staff - a clerk and a utility operator. Which one of those do you let go? The fixed costs for a small town are a higher percentage of the total operating costs of governemnt than it is for a larger government that has more discretionary spending.
  • You'll see a strange and somewhat ironic turn of events if you sit back and ponder this article.
  • It is hard to see a "chicken as a rock star", but here you go. Having grown up on a farm with plenty of chickens, it amuses me how a chicken can keep someone awake yet the ambient sounds of a highway can be soothing (not to me).
  • As an undergraduate, I did an internship with the Minnesota Department of Transportation (my undergraduate degree is in civil engineering). They put me on a survey crew and I could tell some sad stories about that experience (got to see the inside of a lot of restaurants I never even knew existed, for one). As an "insider" though, I got to participate in the unique naming conventions used by Mn/DOT survey crews up until now. The water tower in Sauk Rapids, Minnesota, has some survey control around it that uses some not-so-creative symbols to complete some colorful four-letter words.
  • And while this is not new, I stumbled across it this week. Andres Duany is great at describing the ramifications of different growth models, the limitations of planning and market-based solutions.

Have a great weekend!