When referring to the conglomerate area known as Central Minnesota, many people tend to naturally think of St. Cloud and its direct suburbs of Waite Park, Sartell, St. Joseph, and Sauk Rapids—those represented by the counties of Stearns and Benton. Yet Central Minnesota is also home to Sherburne County covering the cities of Big Lake, Becker, Elk River, Zimmerman, and Clear Lake. Of course, Central Minnesota can refer to a geographic designation, but it too can be a feeling, a way of life, and description for the people and places that call it home.
How Counties Work
The land now known as Sherburne County belonged to Benton County until 1856 when Sherburne County was organized through an act of the Territorial Legislature. The County, named after Moses Sherburne, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the Minnesota Territory, was organized even before Minnesota became a State on May 11, 1858. Minnesota and the rest of the “frontier” land west of the 13 original colonies was surveyed into 6-mile “square” sections, completed across the course of decades. (The last surveys in far northern Minnesota were completed in the early 20th century) As areas were defined by these government surveys, they could then be described and sold. Like Sartell, Sherburne County is home to the meandering Mississippi River and early settlement tended to be heavily focused on accessing the necessary river for trading and commerce.
Counties, like Sherburne in Minnesota, act as agents of the state, serving their constituents through government-related services including elected officials, court administration, law enforcement, legal representation, health and human services, property and local business matters, environmental concerns, and public entities like parks, waterways, libraries, and more. If any mandate or emergency is enacted at the state or federal level, local counties have the duty of carrying out the direction.
Simply put, Sherburne County exists to ensure every household in the county has the information needed about the services available, the success stories that often go untold, and the growth and innovation happening in its communities.
David Unze is the Communications Media Specialist at Sherburne County. When asked about sponsoring St. Cloud Shines, he remarked, “We support St. Cloud Shines because it calls attention to the numerous reasons Central Minnesota is a great place to live, work, and play. Telling the stories of Central Minnesota’s culture, its business opportunities, its successes, and the people behind those stories can only help us all grow and become a stronger community.”
Unze mentioned the growth and progress alive and well in the county he serves, noting, “In Sherburne County, businesses will find one of the fastest-growing counties in the state, one that has an educated workforce ready to participate in the global workforce and a well-organized Economic Development team that can quickly work to assist them with a number of programs and funding opportunities. Sherburne County is growing, yet has ample commercial and industrial land available, reasonably priced. Businesses benefit from high-quality government services and property taxes that are among the lowest in the state.”
Impact on Workforce, Taxation
Of course, not all growth and change is positive, and with that comes the need for entities to dig deep, explore collaborative options, and work towards finding sustainable options that benefit people and places. Unze explains, “The Sherburne County region is going through an energy transition as Xcel Energy intends to close two of the three coal units at the Sherco Generating Station by 2023 and 2026. This will result in a substantial number of job cuts and an extraordinary loss of tax base for the Becker, Sherburne County, and Becker School District. It is imperative that we work together as a region to diversify the tax base and create additional jobs to help mediate the impact of the plant closures.”
Hearty Minnesotans, especially those who call Central Minnesota home know a thing or two about facing adversity and rising to the occasion. Unze added, “Central Minnesotans are hard workers who take pride in providing excellent products and services and don’t cut corners. They work hard and they play hard, enjoying the outdoors and all that nature has to offer. They appreciate and respect the land and the people they call their neighbors. The potential remains untapped as Central Minnesota continues to grow and explore what it can become. The opportunities to create our future together, rather than be defined by the past, mean the future is what we make it.”
Oh, and Sherburne County’s unofficial tagline? Opportunity Awaits.
It sure does.