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Lee Egerstrom, Economic Development Fellow

Lee Egerstrom

Lee Egerstrom, a veteran journalist and author of books on agriculture, economic development and cooperative business development, has joined Minnesota 2020 as a research fellow working in the area of rural economic development.

Egerstrom worked for 36 years as a business journalist covering food industry and agriculture issues and as a Washington correspondent for the St. Paul Pioneer Press and its former parent company, Knight Ridder Newspapers. During that time he served as president of the National Association of Agricultural Journalists, he received the Farm Editor of the Year award (1986) from the NAAJ and the National Press Club's Washington Correspondent of the Year Award for Congressional Reporting (1980), among journalism awards.

As an extension of his journalistic work, Egerstrom has written, edited or contributed chapters to 15 books, some of which were also published in Danish, Dutch and Japanese editions. His Make No Small Plans book published in 1994 defined and named the New Generation Cooperatives (NGC) business model that has pumped new life in Upper Midwest rural communities and now serves as a model for economic developers around the globe. The International Sociological Association (based in Madrid) named the 1996 book Seizing Control: The International Market Power of Cooperatives, written with two Dutch economists (Van Dijk and Bos), to its list of "Books of the Century" for social science libraries.

More recent books have included chapters for supplemental texts, Cooperatives and Local Development: Theory and Applications for the 21st Century (2004), and A Cooperative Approach to Local Economic Development (2001) that were edited by faculty (Merrett and Walzer) at the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs, Western Illinois University. A 2002 centennial history of the National Farmers Union (Connecting America's Farmers with America's Future), written with two other former journalists (Hakel and Denman), is sold out and is being prepared for a second edition. A more recent research paper, Cooperative Enterprise Models: New Options for Tribal Cultures and Development (2004, St. Cloud State University and Marketplace Productions), is also in distribution through local economic development and tribal organizations.

Egerstrom, born in 1943 on a farm near Kerkhoven, Minn., has bachelors and honorary doctorate degrees from St. Cloud State University and he did sabbatical studies on trade and agriculture issues in Europe through the Atlantic - Pacific Exchange Program, Rotterdam. He and his wife Lalinda have three adult daughters.