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Minnesota Community Pride winners announced Labor Day weekend at Minnesota State Fair

Over 20 Minnesota communities, large and small, from across the state, took home top honors and over $15,000 in cash awards in the 25th Anniversary Minnesota Community Pride competition, announced at the Minnesota Community Pride Showcase and Awards Ceremony at the Minnesota State Fair over Labor Day weekend at Carousel Park.

Jerry Hammer, General Manager of the Minnesota State Fair, Jane Leonard, President of Minnesota Rural Partners, Inc., and Joel Kramer, Editor and CEO of MinnPost, were on hand Sunday to help recognize the communities during the awards ceremony with award checks, plaques, and State Fair ribbons. A complete list of winners is available at

An exhibit tent adjacent to Carousel Park stage was full of project displays that were popular with State Fair attendees eager to learn more about the communities' efforts.

The contest was co-sponsored by the Minnesota State Fair, MinnPost, The Blandin Foundation, and Minnesota Rural Partners, Inc., who worked together to organize the summer-long competition and the State Fair event as part of the Reinventing Minnesota initiative, to lift up innovations across the state that help Minnesota thrive.

"Connecting, creating, thriving" is the tagline of Reinventing Minnesota. It's a way to think and act, to turn the current economic challenges into opportunities that encourage people to connect and share good ideas and resources to move us into a thriving future for all. It builds on Minnesota's history of inventiveness, innovation and compassion to recognize the goodwill and good actions that communities, neighborhoods and organizations across our state are doing right now to help one another.

"The purpose for the contest first and foremost was to find a way to share the great ideas Minnesotans have for improving their communities in the midst of a challenging economic environment," said Jane Leonard, who helped run the original Minnesota Community Pride program 25 years ago. "So much good is happening in Minnesota's communities that if shared, can help others across our state and country. These citizens and the projects being honored at the State Fair embody the spirit of the Reinventing Minnesota initiative and the Community Pride competition."

That's why the State Fair was the perfect venue to showcase the Minnesota Community Pride communities. Where else do all Minnesotans gather to see what improvements have been made since last year? There are exhibits on agricultural innovations and sustainable energy and arts & culture and more. Why not examples of community and economic development improvements, too, that people can take home to their own cities and neighborhoods?

Communities that participated in the State Fair event included: Amboy, Austin, Baudette, Bloomington, Caledonia, Coon Rapids, Detroit Lakes, Glencoe, Hoffman, Lake City, Lanesboro, Madelia, Mankato, Marshall, Maynard, Menahga, Minneapolis, St. Louis Park, Sebeka, Staples, and Willmar.

The Minnesota Community Pride competition lifts up and publicly recognizes community and economic development achievement, and innovations in specific disciplines, such as education, broadband deployment and application, health care, entrepreneurship support, arts & culture, community design, housing and natural resources/environment.

Finalist communities were determined by a panel of judges reviewing the entries received earlier this summer. Top winners among the finalists were selected by a public vote online via during the week before the 2009 Minnesota State Fair began.