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Building Prosperity: The Vital Role of Economic Development in Our Community

Over the past 4.5 years here in Winona I have watched so many amazing things happen in the area. Development of new apartment complexes, manufacturing expansion, new businesses, a new YMCA and Volunteer Services building, revitalization of historic buildings, and so much more. And while I don’t hear many people discussing all this amazing vitality and growth too often, I do hear a lot of dialogue about the new hotel, housing complex, event center, and restaurant at 60 Main. So, I would like to focus on what it is…. Economic development!

Economic development is attracting and growing businesses, creating and retaining jobs, and making our communities a better place to live. Economic development and growth are vital for the well-being and sustainability of any community. They bring numerous benefits, ranging from improved infrastructure to enhanced quality of life for residents. Here are some key reasons why economic development and growth are important:

1. Job Creation and Employment Opportunities: Economic development attracts new businesses and encourages the expansion of existing ones, leading to job creation. A robust job market not only reduces unemployment but also enhances the standard of living by providing residents with better employment opportunities and higher wages.

2. Increased Tax Revenues: Growth in the economy results in higher tax revenues for local governments through business taxes, property taxes, and sales taxes. This increased revenue can be reinvested into the community to improve public services such as education, healthcare, and public safety, creating a positive feedback loop that further stimulates economic growth. Remember that public parking lots cost taxpayers money to maintain and upkeep, however when land is developed by private investors, that tax burden changes hands.

3. Improved Infrastructure: Economic growth often leads to the development and improvement of infrastructure, including transportation systems, utilities, and public facilities. Better infrastructure attracts more businesses, facilitates efficient transportation of goods and services, and improves the overall quality of life for residents.

4. Enhanced Quality of Life: With economic development, communities can offer better amenities and services, such as parks, recreational facilities, cultural centers, and entertainment options. This not only makes the community more attractive to potential residents and businesses but also improves the well-being of current residents.

5. Diversification of the Economy: Economic growth encourages diversification, reducing the community's reliance on a single industry. A diversified economy is more resilient to economic downturns, as it can better withstand sector-specific declines. This stability helps maintain employment levels and economic health.

6. Attraction of Talent and Investment: A thriving economy attracts skilled professionals and investors, fostering innovation and entrepreneurship. This influx of talent and capital can lead to new business ventures and technological advancements, driving further economic growth and development.

7. Social Benefits: Economic development can lead to social benefits such as reduced poverty, improved healthcare, and better educational opportunities. These improvements contribute to a more equitable and cohesive society, where residents have greater opportunities to succeed and contribute to the community's prosperity.

Putting vacant or abandoned buildings and land back into productive use is a major function of economic development. This economic growth retains and attracts talented people. Communities that provide quality jobs and great places to live and work are a magnet for folks of all ages. Economic development also fosters the entrepreneurial spirit that resides in our creative and ambitious citizens. By providing access to ideas, investment and expert advice, new companies can be created to help assure Winona’s economy stays innovative and diverse.

While it is easy to focus on what was, it is important to always have our eyes on the future. Whether it is a clinic expansion, a new University complex, a new city playground, a manufacturing expansion, a new workout facility, housing, new restaurants or retail establishments, or a hotel project, they all play a key role in making our community a better place to live, work, and play. And beyond our vibrant community awaits a myriad of people that will come here and stay, spending money in our shops and restaurants and hopefully finding the uniqueness and vibrance of our community so special that they see a life here in Winona too.

Let’s focus on what is good in every single project in our community because it truly is a blessing to see things grow and develop in our community. We should all be grateful because a town that fails to move forward in growth will surely wither away. Thank you to the investors, the innovators, the entrepreneurs, and those passionate enough to see a future that is brighter tomorrow than today.

Christie Ransom

President & CEO

Winona Area Chamber of Commerce


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