The 35th annual Rural Legislative Forum was held at the Verizon Center Ballroom Thursday afternoon.

Around a dozen key public leaders took turns to speak out on issues facing the rural economy and potential solutions.

"The reality is that the world economy is going to grow faster than the US economy," Minnesota Chamber of Commerce's Senior Vice President of Public Affairs and Business Development Bill Blazar said. 

With agriculture being a leading connection to nearly all businesses in the southern Minnesota region, the annual rural legislative forum is an opportunity to hold candid conversations on the topic.

"Unfortunately so many people are disconnected from their farmer. So that's a good reason to have forum like this too. Where we can get a little bit more engagement with the legislators and all the people involved," local farmer Jon Guentzel said. 

The event is tailored not only to those in agriculture, but also main street businesses, as panelists touched on topics of trade and immigration.

"This state really does depend on international migration to grow our population, to have the workers we need. Amber is exactly right. We don't have a viable visa system for agriculture," Blazar said. 

Guentzel has attended the forum year after year and says it's the active participation and various perspectives on current issues that keeps him coming back.

"There's a lot of changes happening. It's important to know what's happening and when things are coming up as far as legislation and such," Guentzel said. 

--KEYC News 12