CGMC, GMNP to host housing discussions in September

Looking ahead to the 2020 legislative session and beyond, we anticipate that housing will continue to be an important issue for the CGMC and our economic development-focused sister organization, the Greater Minnesota Partnership (GMNP). Housing, or a lack thereof, has a major impact on economic development and growth throughout the state, but oftentimes the conversation at the Capitol focuses on the needs of the metro area. That is why it is critical that the CGMC and GMNP continue be a strong voice for Greater Minnesota on this issue.  

In order to hear from our members and better understand the various housing concerns that impact your communities, the CGMC and GMNP are co-hosting meetings in Austin and Fergus Falls that will focus on housing. We encourage all interested city officials to attend. The information gleaned from the meetings will help us shape our legislative strategy on housing for the upcoming legislative session.

Here are the meeting details:

Austin: Tuesday, Sept. 24, 1-4 p.m.
Jay C. Hormel Nature Center
Ruby Rupner Auditorium
1304 21st St. NE Austin, MN

Fergus Falls: Friday, Sept. 27, 1-4 p.m.
West Central Initiative (Boardroom)
1000 Western Ave.
Fergus Falls, MN

NOTE: We initially reported that the Fergus Falls meeting was to be held Sept. 26. However, later since learned that date conflicts with the League of Minnesota Cities’ regional meeting in Perham. To avoid this conflict, we moved our housing meeting to the following day, Friday, Sept. 27.

To RSVP, please send an email to Julie Liew at and let her know which meeting you plan to attend.

See your certified LGA for 2020

The Minnesota Department of Revenue released the certified Local Government Aid amounts for 2020 last week. You can find the amounts for each city here.

The LGA appropriation for 2020 is $560 million — a $26 million increase from 2019. LGA will increase by an additional $4 million in 2021, restoring the program to 2002 funding levels. The 2020 LGA payments will be made on July 20 and December 26 of 2020.

Categories: LGA

Willmar City Councilor Audrey Nelsen elected CGMC President

For Immediate Release                                                                              
Aug. 5, 2019
Contact: Julie Liew, jlliew@flaherty
PDF version

ST. PAUL—Willmar City Councilor Audrey Nelsen was elected to serve as president of the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities (CGMC) July 26 at the Coalition’s three-day summer conference in Bemidji. As president, Nelsen will help direct efforts to inform state legislators on issues unique to Greater Minnesota, such as Local Government Aid (LGA), economic development, transportation and environmental policy.

Nelsen was elected by fellow city officials from across the state to lead the CGMC, long considered one of the most active, high-profile organizations to represent rural communities at the State Capitol.  

“As one of our most engaged and dedicated members, Audrey brings a smart and insightful leadership approach to our organization,” said Bradley Peterson, executive director of the CGMC. “I have no doubt that she will bring the same deep commitment to helping all Greater Minnesota cities that she brings to the city of Willmar.”

Bemidji City Councilor Ron Johnson, whom Nelsen is replacing as president, echoed Peterson’s comments.

“I’ve gotten to know Audrey through her involvement in the CGMC over the past several years and I’m impressed by her enthusiasm and passion for the issues that impact rural cities,” Johnson said. “I’m confident that she is the right person to lead our organization into the next decade.”

Nelsen, who has served on the CGMC board of directors since 2014, said she is ready to dive in and work hard to help find solutions to the challenges facing Greater Minnesota communities. She noted among the CGMC’s top priorities for 2020 will be to advocate for a robust bonding bill that invests in critical Greater Minnesota projects and programs.

“I’m honored to have been chosen to serve as president of the CGMC,” Nelsen said. “Looking ahead to the upcoming legislative session, I look forward to working with lawmakers and other city leaders across the state to tackle the issues that are important to our communities.”

CGMC is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization representing 97 cities outside of the Twin Cities metropolitan area. The Coalition educates legislators about issues important to Greater Minnesota. Visit the CGMC’s website at and follow the CGMC on Twitter @greatermncities.

Congratulations to the CGMC’s 2019 legislative awards recipients

Each year, the CGMC honors the legislators, city officials and community leaders who helped advance the CGMC’s goals over the preceding legislative session and/or an extended period of time.

Click on the names below to read a press release about each individual award recipient or click here for a list with brief descriptions of all the winners. You can also visit our Facebook page to see photos from the awards dinner on July 25 in Bemidji.

Legislator of Distinction- Tax Policy

Legislator of Distinction- Economic Development

Legislator of Distinction- Environment

Legislator of Distinction- Transportation

First-term Legislator of the Year

Excellence in Service – Awarded to CGMC elected officials, city managers/administrators and/or city staff who demonstrated knowledge, leadership and active participation in CGMC program areas over the preceding session and/or an extended period of time.

Excellence in Teamwork – Awarded to the elected officials and city staff of CGMC member cities that worked together to promote CGMC goals and priorities over the preceding session and/or an extended period of time.

Jack Murray Award for Distinguished Rural Leadership (retiring elected officials) – Awarded—upon their retirement from public service—to CGMC mayors and elected officials who have made special contributions to the CGMC over a multi-year career. The award is named after Jack Murray, former mayor of International Falls, who was instrumental in the CGMC’s formation.

Bob Filson Award for Distinguished Rural Leadership (retiring staff) – Awarded—upon their retirement from public service—to CGMC city managers/administrators or key staff members who made special contributions to the CGMC over a multi-year career. The award is named after Bob Filson, former city manager of Worthington, who showed consistent and relentless dedication to whatever mattered to the CGMC and its members.

Friend of the CGMC – Awarded to individuals (not legislators or CGMC city officials) or organizations who have helped advance CGMC priorities and/or made important contributions to Greater Minnesota.

Tim Flaherty Legacy Award – Awarded—upon their retirement—to legislators or other advocates who have demonstrated unfailing commitment and made extraordinary contributions to Greater Minnesota during their careers. This year the award is being renamed the “Tim Flaherty Legacy Award” in honor of Tim’s years of service to the CGMC and Greater Minnesota.

  • Tim Flaherty

President’s Award – Awarded to the outgoing CGMC president.

Thank you to our conference exhibitors!

The Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities would like to extend a big thank-you to all of the businesses and organizations that participated in the exhibitors’ tradeshow at our summer conference on July 25 in Bemidji:

CGMC Summer Conference is almost here!

We can’t wait to see you in Bemidji!

The CGMC Summer Conference will be held July 24-26 at the Sanford Center, located on shore of beautiful Lake Bemidji! Agenda highlights include:  

  • Are you a pain in the behind? Find out why you and your fellow city leaders need to be!
  • DEED Commissioner Steve Grove talks economic development during the keynote luncheon.
  • What do legislators have to say? A panel of legislative leaders will discuss the 2019 session and what to expect in 2020 and heading into the next election.
  • Housing, workforce development, environmental clean-up and restoration are just a few of the other topics that will be featured.
  • Bemidji in the summer? Yes, please! Explore the city through tour options and a city-sponsored reception, dinner and entertainment.
  • Get free swag at the exhibitors’ tradeshow.
  • Honor recently retired CGMC Executive Director Tim Flaherty and other leaders who have helped shape the CGMC and advance Greater Minnesota priorities during our annual Legislative Awards Dinner.
  • And much more!

See this CONFERENCE AGENDA & VENUE INFORMATION for more detailed information.


Please register online at We will accept last-minute registrations!


Please note that attendees are responsible for their own hotel reservations.

The Country Inn & Suites in Bemidji has a block of rooms reserved for CGMC Summer Conference attendees at a discounted rate of $114-$139 (plus tax) per night, depending on room type. As of last week, the block was full; however, we recommend that the you call the hotel at 218-441-4800 to see if any rooms have opened up.

If there are no rooms available at the Country Inn & Suites, we recommend that you contact the nearby DoubleTree at 218-441-4400. Other hotels near the Sanford Center include the Hampton Inn & Suites (218-751-3600) and the Candlewood Suites (218-497-3000).


If you have any questions about the conference, please contact Julie Liew at or 651-259-1917.

Join the CGMC for breakfast in Duluth

Heading to the League of Minnesota Cities Conference this week in Duluth? If so, we invite you to join the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities (CGMC) for breakfast on Thursday, June 27 from 7:30 am to 8:30 am in Ballroom O at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center!

The event will feature a brief presentation on the CGMC – our mission, goals and priorities – followed by a panel discussion that will explore the CGMC’s work to address the child care shortage in Greater Minnesota. The discussion will be led by CGMC staff member Scott McMahon and feature panelists Tony Sertich, president of the Northland Foundation; Jon Radermacher, city administrator for Little Falls; and Jerry Gabrielatos, assistant manager for Albert Lea.

If you have any questions about the CGMC breakfast or our organization, please contact Shane Zahrt at or (651) 295-1123.

We look forward to seeing you in Duluth!

See you in Bemidji!

We have a great CGMC Summer Conference lined up for July 24-26 in Bemidji!

Agenda highlights include:

– Find out why Greater Minnesota needs to be a “pain in the behind”
– Learn about emerging trends and challenges in issues such as workforce development, housing, environmental clean-up and restoration, and economic development
– Explore the city of Bemidji by taking part in tours and during a city-sponsored reception, dinner and entertainment
– Discover new services, businesses and organizations at the exhibitors’ tradeshow
– Forge connections with other city leaders from across Greater Minnesota by sharing your ideas, concerns and hopes for the future

See this conference agenda and venue information for more detailed information.

REGISTER TODAY! Please register online at The deadline to register is July 17.

HOTEL INFORMATION – Please note that attendees are responsible for their own hotel reservations. The Country Inn & Suites in Bemidji has a block of rooms reserved for the CGMC at a discounted rate of $114-$139 (plus tax) per night. Call the hotel at 218-441-4800 to make a reservation. The block closes July 1.

QUESTIONS? If you have any questions about the conference, please contact Julie Liew at or (651) 259-1917.

Busy summer begins – join us for CGMC events!

Now that most of the snow is melted, temperatures are rising and the legislative session is officially over, it is time to switch gears and start focusing on all of the CGMC’s summer events and activities.

In our annual tradition, in the coming months CGMC staff will be traveling to many of our member cities to update city officials on the legislative outcomes and other accomplishments and activities from the past year.  While we are not able to visit all 97 CGMC members, we will be reaching out to many of you soon to set up meetings.

In addition, we have several events coming up that we hope you will be able to attend:

  • Labor & Employee Relations Seminars: June 6 in Brainerd and June 13 in New Ulm – These seminars focus on practical and legal solutions for providing services and managing employees in local government. They will provide timely and relevant advice on topics such as employee background checks, administrating family and medical-related leaves, police departments’ unique personnel issues and more. Click here for more information on the seminars. Please register online at
  • CGMC Breakfast at the LMC Conference: June 27 in Duluth – The CGMC will be hosting a breakfast during the League of Minnesota Cities’ annual conference. CGMC staff members Scott McMahon and Shane Zahrt will be leading a presentation and discussion regarding child care issues in Greater Minnesota. This also serves as a great opportunity to recruit new member cities — please encourage non-CGMC members to attend as well!
  • CGMC Summer Conference: July 24-26 in Bemidji  – We have a great conference lined up! It will feature presentations and discussion on topics such as “Why Greater Minnesota needs to be a pain in the behind,” housing, innovative job training programs, environmental clean-up, economic development and more, as well as opportunities to explore the beautiful city of Bemidji and learn about some of the great things happening there. Click here to see the conference agenda and hotel information. Please register online at

For more information on all of the CGMC’s conferences and events, please visit our website at

News Release: Legislature passes bill to restore LGA funding to 2002 level

For Immediate Release
Contact: Julie Liew,
PDF version

ST. PAUL—It took years of advocacy by city leaders and a late-night special session to get there, but funding for the Local Government Aid (LGA) program is finally being restored to its 2002 high-water mark.

The tax bill passed by the Legislature in the wee hours of Saturday morning contains a $26 million increase in LGA for 2020, followed by an additional $4 million boost in 2021, bringing total funding for the program to $564 million. The bill is now headed to Gov. Walz’s desk. He is expected to sign it, along with other key budget bills, on Tuesday.

“Our No. 1 priority for this year was to get LGA funding back up to the 2002 level,” said Ron Johnson, who serves as president of the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities (CGMC) and is a member of the Bemidji City Council. “I’m ecstatic that the Legislature and Governor were able to work together to make that goal a reality. Cities all across the state, and especially in Greater Minnesota, are going to benefit from this important investment.”

This increase has been a long time coming for the nearly 90% of cities in Minnesota who rely on LGA to help pay for city services (such as public safety, street maintenance, parks and libraries) and restrain property taxes. While LGA has received occasional boosts in funding in recent years, cities have still been playing catch-up since drastic cuts to the program in the mid-2000s.

“As city officials, we work hard to keep our city budgets and property tax levies in check, but it is difficult when costs for everything from employee health insurance premiums to construction materials continue to rise,” Johnson said.

“A great thing about LGA is that it gives cities the flexibility to make investments wherever they are most needed,” he added. “With this bump in funding, some cities will be able to hire an additional firefighter or replace a beaten up old snowplow, while others might use the extra LGA to hold down their levies.”

Bradley Peterson, executive director of the CGMC, credited tenacious city leaders, Gov. Walz, House Tax Chair Rep. Paul Marquart (DFL-Dilworth) and other state lawmakers for their hard work in getting the LGA increase through the Legislature this year.

“Successes like this have many parents,” Peterson said, noting that LGA is a prime example of an issue where the divided state government was able to reach a compromise for the good of the state.

In addition to LGA, there were other bright spots for Greater Minnesota in the special session.

The Legislature approved funding to help address the child care shortage in Greater Minnesota, including $750,000 to be divided between the six Minnesota Initiative Foundations for child care provider training and business assistance and an additional $750,000 for child care grants, of which at least 60% must go to Greater Minnesota. It also passed $40 million for rural broadband, $18 million for clean water infrastructure grants, $3.5 million for the Greater Minnesota Business Development Public Infrastructure Grant Program and $1.35 million for the Greater Minnesota Job Training Incentive Program.

However, there were some major disappointments in the session as well.

After legislative leaders were unable to agree on adopting any new revenues for transportation, the Legislature passed a pared down transportation bill that included no funding for small-city streets and no additional funding for the Municipal Street Aid or Corridors of Commerce programs.

And perhaps the biggest disappointment of the session was the failure to pass a bonding bill. Johnson said city leaders were counting on a bonding bill to help pay for critical infrastructure needs such as repairs to wastewater treatment plants and other city facilities, road improvements and new or expanded child care facilities.

“In some ways this was a bittersweet legislative session for Greater Minnesota overall,” Johnson said. “We are pleased with the LGA increase, but the lack of a bonding bill or comprehensive transportation bill means many important projects will have to be pushed aside for at least another year.”


The Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization representing 97 cities outside of the Twin Cities metropolitan area. The Coalition educates legislators about issues important to Greater Minnesota. Visit the CGMC online at and follow us on Twitter @greatermncities.