Great, Good Meeting Places in Downtown Northfield, MN

Knowledge-workers, the “creative class”, innovative entrepreneurs…whatever you call them, they’ve been attracted to downtown Northfield for many decades.  Dozens of businesses have been started in, or relocated to, the downtown, making substantive contributions to the Northfield economy.

They play a big role in the national economy too; these jobs, categorized by the Standard Occupational Classification System, add up to approximately a third of the U. S. workforce.  Scientists, engineers, educators, computer programmers, artists, designers, medical professionals, healthcare workers, lawyers, and financiers…what brings them to Downtown Northfield, MN?

Through our NDDC Board Business Visits, we’ve heard of the attributes which attracted business entrepreneurs and owners to Northfield: the historic downtown, the “wild and scenic” river, the arts and cultural opportunities (significantly enhanced by the presence of two nationally-ranked colleges), good public schools, and quick and easy proximity to the airport.  But what brings them downtown?

Great, Good (Meeting) Places.

It’s a concept that has been long-championed by NDDC co-founder and former board member Bardwell Smith.  As developed by Ray Oldenburg in his book “The Great Good Place”, such places are the key for building social capital, civic engagement, and sense of place.  These places are increasingly recognized as also contributing to economic vitality through providing an environment conducive to business innovation and entrepreneurial activity.

We conducted an informal survey of about three dozen of these creative, knowledgeable, innovators, asking where they liked to meet in downtown Northfield.  Surprisingly, they often answered with a question, “Before 9 or after 5?”.

Apparently, these decisions are often influenced by the time of day…and the choice of beverage.  Downtown Northfield is fortunate to have so many great, good options.