On this week’s Regional Road Trip, we had a wonderful visit to Benson, home of our board member Janet Lundebrek (pictured at far right) who is the president of First Security Bank in Benson.
Jan’s commitment to the Southwest Initiative Foundation goes back to the very beginning—30 years ago, when she served on the original statewide steering committee of rural leaders helping design the business model for the six Minnesota Initiative Foundations.
The McKnight Foundation funded the start-up of the Southwest Initiative Foundation in 1986, and because of the ongoing leadership and commitment of people like Jan, we are a strong, independent organization today.
Like the majority of our communities, Benson is centered on agriculture. It’s home to Case IH, Chippewa Valley Ethanol, and Fibrominn—the only electricity generating plant in the country that uses turkey liter as its fuel source—just to name a few.
What struck me while visiting with our lunch guests is just how dependent our rural communities are on each other. At one point, we had folks who live in Benson, Granite Falls and Appleton altogether at the table. They all work in Benson, but have kids in different school districts, spouses working in other places, almost like a dual community citizenship. These same families are integral to more than one place, to work, live, volunteer, fill leadership positions.
Today more than ever, our rural communities have a great reason and need to work together!