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Minnesota Policy Conference

On October 15, 2014, Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin, Chief Operating Officer of Main Street Project, will be the moderator of a panel on public policy and the contributions of immigrant populations at the University of Minnesota for the 30th Annual Minnesota Policy Conference. The panel will include Sara Radosevich, Policy Research Analyst, Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, and Gene Gelgelu from African Development Solutions in St. Paul.

Screen shot 2014-10-03 at 2.04.35 PM“The Economic Contributions of Immigrants in Minnesota”, a report by Professor Bruce Corrie and Sarah Radosevich will be the basis of the discussion.  The report’s key findings,  “multi-dimensional contributions that immigrants make in our communities, not only as workers, but also as entrepreneurs, consumers, taxpayers, and so on” will lead to an even bigger discussion – policy implications of ethnic capital in our community.  According to the Annual Minnesota Policy Conference brochure, “This year’s conference examines the question of how can policy support a prosperous and sustainable future for Minnesota. The conference has two major outcomes – create ‘policy partnerships’ that include analysts researchers, designers, implementers, evaluators,and others who can inform policy; and generate policy ideas (designs) and solutions based on robust discussion, sound analysis, research, implementation, and evaluation.”

Susan Brower, Minnesota State Demographer, will be one of the speakers for the keynote presentation at the beginning of the Conference. Susan will present with Laura Kalambokidis, State Economist, discussing key trends such the “silver tsunami” to an “increasingly diverse labor force”, related to policy.

Screen shot 2014-10-03 at 2.10.02 PMI had the pleasure of hearing Susan Brower speak at a Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) VISTA meeting in Owatonna, MN in early August. Susan explained that Minnesota, as well as the U.S., is an aging population – Baby Boomers are reaching the 65+ category, on their way into retirement. Minnesota’s projected net migration and natural change will be effected from 2012- 2065, resulting in an increase in migration due to lack of births compare to deaths, see figure to the right. Many of the CEO’s and “top players” of organizations are nearing retirement and there is a need to educate the skilled labor to become premium assets to organizations. Susan described, as VISTA’s we help organizations prepare workers for the future, particularly minority and immigrant focus. “This is the way we will grow and continue moving forward.” Susan introduced three strategies for rural Minnesota, “1. Create new narrative about immigration, 2. Protect, strengthen, and promote assets that make rural Minnesota attractive to immigrants, and 3. Consider new opportunities that become available to rural MN as the knowledge economy continues to take shape.”

unnamedLast week, a conference call was made to finalize the structure of the panel session and coordinating housekeeping matters to prepare for the event in less than two weeks.  “This is a critical topic, there is a need for creating discussion of opportunities to an increasing diverse labor force. At Main Street Project, we are trying to strategize sustainable food systems and food system changes. We are providing the underserved populations and immigrants a chance to get themselves a foothold. There is a lot to offer and getting to the root of those strategical questions are important.”  Haslett-Marroquin mentioned many eye-opening points throughout the conference call. “In a policy standpoint, this discussion is what we need to uninhibit the community, to flourish and to achieve. In the context of image, it is critical to the community of immigrants to establish community, to be able to see it as a whole or group.

He believes there are three important key points of the panel discussion – “First, the need of knowing what is already out there in regards to policy and why we report on it. Second, the overall message, message in numbers can be impactful to creating a visual identity. And finally, what are the things we should pay attention to and the specific methods to go about these opportunities and changes.”

“What long held assumptions might need to change? Are there new challenges to the state’s future vitality that policy can help address? What opportunities do these trends present?” questions asked in the Annual Minnesota Policy Conference brochure.  “We need to open up and continue to create these conversations about policy and social structure. A key take away from this conference is this is how we can communicate policy – split up into three different categories including economic, social, and political impacts,” concluded Haslett-Marroquin.

This is a critical topic and a great conversation to lead us to where we need to be headed into the future for ourselves in the upcoming decades and for our future generations.