Back to the Sep-Oct 2023 issue

Bits & Briefs

Minnesota to Receive Federal Funds for Cybersecurity

Many Minnesota cities struggle to keep their computer systems safe from cyberattacks. Starting this fall, federal funds will be available to help cities with their security initiatives.

Minnesota’s application was approved for federal funding through the State and Local Cybersecurity Grant Program managed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and authorized in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA).

Minnesota’s share of the grant is $23 million to be distributed over four years. The program requires that 80% of the allocation must passthrough to local entities with 25% of the total allocation passed to rural communities.

Projects that receive the federal funds must help local government put policies in place to guide the use of technology, assist with planning, conduct assessments on their current state of security, and provide solutions to lower their risk of a cyberattack. In addition, there is funding to promote workforce development in the cybersecurity field.

Minnesota IT Services (MNIT) will provide grants to qualified political subdivisions. A task force representing local government sectors has been created to assist in the process. For more information, contact LMC Chief Information Officer Melissa Reeder at

Report Explores the ‘Disappearing Rural Newspaper’

A 2023 report from the Center for Rural Policy & Development (CRPD) delves into the challenges and opportunities facing the newspaper industry in Minnesota. In “The Disappearing Rural Newspaper,” CRPD researchers note that between 2000 and 2021, about one-fourth of newspapers in the state closed — 60% in Greater Minnesota and 40% in the metro area — and the number of people working at newspapers dropped 70%. As a result, thousands of Minnesotans currently lack access to a reliable news source for information about local issues like city council meetings, schools, and area events. Despite these struggles, the report found there is still hope for small-town newspapers, noting that demand and need remains for “hyperlocal” news and people are willing to pay for quality content. The full report is available at

National State of the Cities Report

The 2023 National State of the Cities report is available. It provides valuable insight into the challenges and opportunities facing America’s cities, towns, and villages, and their visions and plans for the future. By analyzing a wide range of data, including the annual speeches of mayors from different sizes of municipal governments and regions, this year’s report reveals the common themes and priorities that local leaders share, and the unique perspectives and solutions they bring to challenges. Download the full report at

LMC Human Resources Director Laura Kushner Enters Retirement

League of Minnesota Cities (LMC) Human Resources Director Laura Kushner retired in July after 25 years with the organization.Laura Kushner

At Kushner’s last LMC Board of Directors meeting on July 20, League leadership staff reflected on Laura’s time serving LMC and Minnesota cities across the state.

“What do you say about someone like Laura Kushner? She’s played such an enormous role in shaping the League. She’s been instrumental in creating the culture here for staff,” said League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust Administrator Dan Greensweig.

In addition to her role internally with LMC, Kushner was also a resource for Minnesota cities, providing trainings and materials.

On her official last day of work, her team threw her a retirement party attended by staff throughout the organization. Pat Beety, general counsel for the League, summed up everyone’s hope for Kushner in retirement. “You’re going to work hard at retirement, but working hard on what you want to do. We’ve talked about dogs and yoga and walking — work hard at that!” Congratulations, Laura!

City of Maple Grove Brings Awareness to Domestic Violence

The City of Maple Grove has been raising awareness of domestic violence for over a decade through the Purple Lights Initiative, Purple Patch Initiative, and partnerships with local organizations, including Cornerstone, Maria’s Voice, and Saint Joseph the Worker Catholic Church.

Each October, as part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the city lights the Government Center and the Town Green (park and bandshell) purple. Numerous businesses, residents, and faith communities also participate. In addition, the Maple Grove Police Department shows support by wearing a purple patch and raising funds for the cause.

Efforts were stepped up in 2020 when the city experienced seven homicides, six of them related to domestic violence. This was a significant anomaly for Maple Grove, which generally experiences one or no homicides annually.

“This experience, along with the leadership of Maria’s Voice, urged the city to further elevate our domestic violence work in the community,” said City Administrator Heidi Nelson. Maria’s Voice was created by the family of Maria Pew who was murdered by her husband in May 2020.

The city continues its awareness and education efforts throughout the year with a workplace wellness program. The Maple Grove Police Department has a domestic violence response team, along with a domestic violence advocate and a social worker embedded in the department, to help connect victims to resources. And, information is posted within city facilities about the common signs of domestic violence and where to get help. Learn more about Maple Grove’s domestic violence resources at