Community leaders from around southern Minnesota gathered in Waseca Thursday to identify the region's challenges.

U.S. Representative Tim Walz (DFL) hosted the Southern Minnesota Way of Life Tour to look at the challenges the area faces on a global, regional and local scale.

"We're here to talk about how do we build that resiliency, how do we make sure that we're not just buffeted by future events randomly, that we're preparing for that," Walz said.

Community leaders from nearby towns, schools and businesses discussed federal policy solutions to issues that matter most to the area, like energy and agriculture.

"It is becoming such an important part of not only this area, the region, but the world," Waseca Mayor Roy Srp said. "It's very exciting to be in a position like we are in southern Minnesota."

Not only did the summit revolve around current issues the region faces, attendees also examined challenges southern Minnesota will face in the future.

"We have diversified an economy, but we need to prepare for a future that's going to be hungrier, thirstier, and more energy dependent and there are few places on the plant that have all of those resources. We do," Walz said.

The hope is leaders will take back what they learned today to strengthen their communities for the future.

--KEYC News 12