Regional Reports: The Turning Tides of Red Wing
Monday, August 05, 2019
The old, established river city is crafting a future while maintaining historic traditions.
It’s easy to think of Red Wing as little more than a picturesque town on the Mississippi downriver from St. Paul.
And that picture isn’t exactly wrong. Red Wing’s downtown has charm. There are shops, restaurants, and the venerable St. James Hotel.
But there’s much more to Red Wing than historic charm. The city of 16,572 is also home to a remarkable diversity of businesses. About 21 percent of all jobs in Red Wing are in manufacturing, a sector that includes famed “craft manufacturers” Red Wing Shoes and Red Wing Stoneware & Pottery. Three of Minnesota’s largest companies—Xcel Energy, 3M, and Cargill—have facilities in the city. There are also numerous smaller, growing companies with distinctive products and services.
City residents, businesses, and organizations are actively working together to maintain and build on the vitality. Sean Dowse, Red Wing’s mayor since 2017, cites as evidence recent capital investments in infrastructure, as well as the Red Wing 2040 Community Plan, officially adopted by the City Council in February, which is helping establish long-term goals for sustainability, health, equity, and economic and community resilience. “None of us who worked on it—and there were hundreds of people involved—want this to just stay on the shelf,” Dowse says. “We have to have this be an active, living document.”