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From the Editor: Future depends on doing things differently

This past week, staff members from the Bemidji Pioneer attended the annual Minnesota Newspaper Association convention.

The convention, which includes an awards banquet to feature great journalism, also includes seminars about trends and issues facing the newspapers and the communities they serve.

One of the most interesting seminars, "Minnesota and the New Normal," was hosted by Tom Gillaspy, the state demographer, who focused on employment, economic and budget trends.

Many of the long-term numbers don't look good for the state, which has been a national leader in education, health care, the environment and quality of life. Gillaspy said traditional growth won't be enough to pull Minnesota out of its financial funk and position itself for the future.

By 2020, there will be as many people 65 or older in the state as K-12 children, and with people living longer than any time in history, there will be a greater demand for health care.

State spending will shift from education and infrastructure to paying for care and support of an aging population.

In many ways, the statistics and trends appear discouraging, especially since the problems associated with paying for health care were predictable.

The issue isn't simply a Minnesota one, either. It's playing out across the country and globe.

Gillaspy said fundamental changes are needed to avoid a trap that would leave us on the brink of financial crisis. Those who realize this global phenomenon playing out and adapt to these shifting dynamics will be the most successful in avoiding the financial trap.

While most politicians claim two options - increase revenues or cut expenses - there is another Gillaspy suggests: Do things differently.

The problems we've worked through and the challenges ahead present a new set of opportunities.

In the business world, talent attracts talent. Being able to adapt, managing the unexpected and focusing on innovation are all keys to a vibrant future.

Neighborhoods, and even communities, are similar in that they attract people of similar values and interests.

So while many people fear change, it is a constant in our lives. But how we perceive change - whether positive or negative - often makes the difference in its impact. Is change something that happens to us, or is it something we can influence the outcome?

Pioneer Editor Steve Wagner can be reached at (218) 333-9774 or email at

Steve Wagner

Grand Forks Herald Editor Steve Wagner can be reached at 701.780.1104 and He joined the Herald in April 2013, and previously worked as editor at the Bemidji (Minn.) Pioneer and in several roles -- including news director, investigative reporter and crime reporter - at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. His reporting experience includes coverage of Dru Sjodin's disappearance and the federal death penalty case for her murderer, Alfonso Rodriguez Jr., along with several investigative projects. In his spare time, Wagner is an avid runner and occasionally writes about his experiences on his blog, Addicted to Running.

(701) 780-1104