2022 Summit Keynote
Living in the Middle of Everywhere: Resident Recruitment in Rural America
Ben Winchester is an expert in community economics and serves as an educator for the University of Minnesota Extension. Ben’s passion and knowledge of building thriving rural communities will kick off the 2022 MREA Greater Education Summit.
A little about Ben
Ben has worked in and for small towns across the Midwest since 1997 — with a focus on his home state of Minnesota. Before joining Extension, Ben was on staff with the Center for Small Towns at
the University of Minnesota-Morris. He joined the Extension Center for Community Vitality in 2008. As rural sociology and evaluation educator for the center, Ben manages evaluation studies that monitor the effectiveness and outcomes of leadership, civic engagement, tourism, resident recruitment, and community economics programs for center activities. Ben also conducts research on topics relevant to community vitality.
What does this mean for your school district? Ben is currently documenting a rural “brain gain” — the trend of 30-49 year-olds moving to rural areas — to identify the social and economic opportunities of this migration. He is also analyzing rural community leadership, especially as it affects community-wide requirements to support the public sector to “keep the town running” and keep rural schools strong.
Hear Winchester and other great leaders at MREA’s Greater Education Summit November 13 – 15 at Cragun’s Resort on Gull Lake.
Winchester Affiliations, Honors, Community Service
- Award: Minnesota Association of Community and Leadership Education Professionals, Excellence in Research, 2012
- Member: Community Development Society, Rural Sociological Society, Minnesota Evaluation Association
- Award: Community Development Society, Current Research Award, 2017
- Award: Oklahoma State University, National Rural Renewal Research Prize, 2021
Winchester Research and Publications
- Winchester, Ben; Bodin, Chet; and Linscheid, Neil. September 2021. Greater Minnesota’s Resident Recruitment Advantage. Minnesota Economic Trends.
- Winchester, Ben. Rural Workforce and Entrepreneur Recruitment and Retention Project. Work is supported by the Innovation for Rural Entrepreneurs and Communities Priority Area grant 2017-68006-26231 from the U. S. Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
- Winchester, B. (2015). Diversity in Rural Wealth: The Many Capitals of Rural Minnesota. Rural Minnesota Journal
- Winchester, B. (2012). Who lives in Minnesota? The 2010 census shows us how our state is changing. Rural Minnesota Journal, 7(1), 5-24.
- Winchester, B., Nash, A., & Spanier, T. (2011). The glass half full: A new view of rural Minnesota. Rural Minnesota Journal, 6(1), 1-30.