Chatfield, MN (KROC-AM News) - Local governments in southeastern Minnesota have a new tool to use as they plan for dramatic growth in coming decades. The Southeastern Minnesota League of Municipalities today unveiled a new report, described as the first of its kind in the region, that includes long-range forecasts for population, employment and economic development across the entire region and on a county-by-county basis. Altogether, it encompasses 8 counties, 77 municipalities, over 368,000 residents and 190,000 workers.

Regionwide, the report predicts the population will grow by over 50,000 people during the next 25 years, while regional employment will rise by around 44,000 positions by 2040. The study says the population increase will require another 14,000 housing units above the current pace of production, while the growth in jobs will necessitate improved transit systems, child care options and support for the region’s growing immigrant population.

Funding for the study, which also calls for the development of a regional tourism strategy, was provided by the state legislature with the bipartisan support of local lawmakers.