“The progress is picking up and it’s escalating, it’s ramping up,” said Brenda Johnson, Executive Director for Southeastern Minnesota League of Municipalities.

And that progress isn’t limited to Rochester and Olmsted County.

“We’re not just talking about DMC — we’re talking about the whole eight-county area that the Southeast League of Cities covers,” she said.

From Goodhue to Fillmore, Mower to Dodge, small communities stepped up their game in 2018.

“Smaller communities are really you know they see the growth that’s happening in Rochester they understand there’s an opportunity there for them but they also understand that they have to be the best them that they can be,” Gastner said.

That includes taking on the region’s challenges.

“Number one – housing; shortage of quantity, shortage of types,” Johnson said.

“Not only are we short on housing but employment rates are so low and we’ve got awesome manufacturers in our community that need the employees but those employees need places to stay,” said Stephanie Lawson, a community and business development specialist for C.E.D.A. in Dodge County.

Those families are facing another challenge – childcare.

“There are not enough slots, not enough space for their kids to be in daycare in their community and the pricing of it,” Johnson said.

While trying to find creative solutions, communities are at the same time trying to attract residents.

“They understand attracting a new workforce, they have to have a prosperous downtown or else no one’s going to want to live in their community,” Gastner said.

While 2018 is at its end, he says 2019 is looking good, too.


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