Bringing meaning to data

Brigid Tuck chats with a group of community members.

Brigid Tuck, left, facilitates a roundtable discussion at Economic Design Days in Goodview, Minnesota. 

When Brigid Tuck was growing up in Le Sueur, Minn., her mother went to work every morning and her father got the kids off to school. And every day, she says, “Dad would shout after us while we were walking to the bus, ‘Remember! You can make a difference!'”

Since 2008, Tuck has been making a difference for Minnesota’s communities and industries. As Extension’s economic analyst, she knows that decision-makers have a daunting amount of data available, so she guides them to ask the right questions, and her reports and presentations provide a thorough interpretation.

As she began working with community leaders, it was clear that Greater Minnesota’s economy was more diverse than most people understood. She wanted to describe what she saw.

Her analysis clearly shows that, though agriculture and mining are still important drivers, professional services, health care, tourism, and other industries create a diverse economy in rural Minnesota. Now, she consistently reminds her audiences that “this isn’t your grandmother’s rural economy.”

“We want to help Greater Minnesota see all of its economic assets, and be able to tell their story,” Tuck says.

She says economic drivers in rural and urban Minnesota have much more in common than people assume. “Sure, the Twin Cities has double the number of jobs in professional and business services that Greater Minnesota has, and the Twin Cities doesn’t have agriculture or mining,” she says. “But we share an interest in the same industries, even in the same order. That’s a good reason to work together as we create Minnesota’s future.”

Tuck’s commitment to Minnesota will continue to take her to communities from border to border, working with her teammates to help communities know and tell their story.

“I honestly believe that our communities are what we make them,” says Tuck. “My job is to help Minnesotans make them better."
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities