Pulling together brought Rock County to stronger economic levels

Star Herald Editorial

A report released earlier this year named Rock County as one of only 10 counties in Minnesota to have fully recovered from the 2010 recession.

The National Association of Counties report indicated a large majority (93 percent) of U.S. counties have not recovered to prerecession levels in jobs, unemployment rates, economic outputs and median home values.

Fortunately, Rock County is among the 214 counties out of the nation’s 3,069 that have recovered. Other successful Minnesota counties include Blue Earth, Carlton, Clay, LeSueur, Marshall, Nicollet, Olmsted, Pennington and Polk.

Sadly, the report stated that for 27 states not a single county in their area has reached prerecession levels.

While so many counties still have struggling economies, why is Rock County able to bounce back so quickly?

The answer may lie in our government leaders’ unselfishness and willingness to work together.

The report is a reminder that county economies are where Americans most directly feel the effects of the nation’s economic health.

At the national level our political leaders have spent years working against one another, and it shows.

It appears this I-won’t-compromise-with-anyone-outside-my-party attitude has become the norm in Washington, D.C.

In Rock County, fortunately, that attitude isn’t the norm.

Two years ago, the report indicated it’s the smaller counties (fewer than than 50,000 people) who were making the best recoveries. Energy and agricultural sectors were singled out as positive factors in a county’s recovery.

Two years ago Rock County’s slowest growth indicator was in job growth.

In one year Rock County jumped to prerecession levels with a .4 percent job growth in 2015.

This rate didn’t improve because a large company moved its business to Rock County. The increase was accomplished by existing businesses who chose to expand their employment base here, not across state borders.

In 2015 our product output was $362.6 million as measured by gross domestic product output. GDP is the total value of goods and services produced in a county.

As a result, the median home prices in Rock County grew by 17.2 percent for existing single-family homes in the past year.

Economic recovery is closely linked to government entities working together within its borders, the report indicated. A strong local-state-federal partnership also helps to secure a strong economy at a local county level.

Rock County hasn’t been without its challenges since the 2010 recession.

In the past six years, residents have experienced ice storms, hail, strong winds and catastrophic flooding events. In recovering from those events, we managed to set record corn and soybean yields in just a matter of years.

We in Rock County should pat ourselves on the backs for working quickly to improve where we live.

In this election year, our Star Herald readers should reward those who helped Rock County be among the 7 percent of counties who have bounced back to prerecession levels.

These government representatives at the local, state and national levels have demonstrated we are important. These are the people we need to support with our votes.

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