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MISKIMINS: To Mitchell, with love: Miskimins signing off

On November 14, 2014, I sat in a room with a cross section of leadership from around the community: people from business, non-profits, education, health care, and more. This was, loosely, the group that had worked together to put Mitchell on the ...

Jacki Miskimins
Jacki Miskimins

On November 14, 2014, I sat in a room with a cross section of leadership from around the community: people from business, non-profits, education, health care, and more. This was, loosely, the group that had worked together to put Mitchell on the map with the Intelligent Community Forum - the agency that named Mitchell a Smart 21 community, then Top 7 city, for the technological advancements undertaken in our area.

This particular meeting centered on gathering ideas for improving our community and the potential role for technology to assist. We discussed youth engagement, collaboration, leadership, attracting talent and investment; we talked about digital inclusion, community advocacy, quality of life, and cross-sector partnerships. Many ideas and action items sprang from this conversation, though one has remained particularly close to my heart: the Palace City Profiles.

Three weeks later the first Palace City Profile was published in The Daily Republic, which originally agreed to print five stories. Flash forward two-odd years; Our fifty-second family was featured a few weeks ago: Jen and Tim Randall and their two wonderful sons.

And now, a difficult sentence to write: The Randall family is the last Palace City Profile that I will author. In leaving my position at the Mitchell Area Development Corporation, I am also leaving the column I helped create.

But before I go, there are a great many people I want to thank - and one final story I wish to share.

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Thank you to every person who sat in that room the November 2014, who said "Yes, let's try it." Thank you to Rory Palm, Luke Hagen, and the great team at the Daily Republic for letting us run with the idea of telling everyday stories about everyday people. Thank you to Dr. Graves, a fellow newspaper contributor, for the encouragement and example. Thank you to the business leaders who trusted my instincts; who gave these stories a chance to change minds, even when it was so difficult to measure.

Thank you to Mari Olson, a dear friend and trusted colleague, who helped author the column during my maternity leave (and, quite frankly, when my schedule overwhelmed my deadlines). Thank you to my extraordinary coworkers, who shared ideas, inspiration, and sometimes even their own stories.

Thank you to the many, many people who have called, emailed, written, or stopped me at the grocery store with kind words or suggestions for new families to feature. Thank you to my husband, Kyle, for helping me push through weekend writer's block. Reader, thank you for the part you yourself have played in making the Palace City Profiles such a profound success.

And from the bottom of my heart, thank you to every single person and family who opened their hearts to share their story.

When we embarked on the Palace City Profiles, we had several hopes. We wanted to showcase the variety of careers available in the Mitchell area, and give a face to those jobs that we may not think about otherwise. We also wanted to capture a trend we were beginning to sense: that young people were choosing to be in Mitchell, not by accident or inertia, but out of appreciation for what the community offers. And finally, we hoped that the stories may help future residents feel like there is a place for them in our city.

With that, I want to share part of Jen and Tim Randall's story that I didn't include in my previous column.

When I first met Jen, it was clear that she and her family had a great story to tell. (A stranger in the dairy aisle with a Corn Palace T-shirt? I had to write it.) And when I asked her if she was familiar with the column, she had a response that made my heart swell: Not only was she familiar, but she and Tim had read through many of them in discerning whether Mitchell would be a good fit for their family.

In her exact words, "We would love to be a part of that series! Palace City Profiles really helped us to feel like we would have a community here, even before we moved!"

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That's what we have accomplished, folks.

Through the generosity of those who have shared their stories and the commitment from our local paper to print them, we have extended the welcome gates of our community even across state lines - finding and embracing those that consider us a potential part of their future. It is the exact outcome we aimed for, and I am so incredibly proud to have been a part of this beautiful experiment.

We've come a long way since 2014. Thank you trusting and allowing me to share our community members' stories, introducing us all to the neighbors and personalities that call Mitchell home. It has been an honor.

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