Earlier this week, we brought you the story about Albert Lea being named one of the 10 worst places to live in Minnesota, according to homesnacks.net. I have to say, again, that I don't buy that, and I will admit I am biased.

Image Credit: Teresa Kauffmann

I did receive an email from the Assistant City Administrator, Jerry Gabrielatos, where he said the following:

I’m Jerry, the Assistant City Manager in Albert Lea.

I liked your response to the clickbait article that was found on roadsnacks.net.  I think this presents an opportunity to talk about all of the good things happening in Albert Lea, while also acknowledging that there is still work to be done.

After a few emails back and forth, he did share a link to the Albert Lea Tribune with me, where he rebuts the article first posted by homesnacks.net. He shared his thoughts about Albert Lea, and what the City is doing to turn some of their numbers around.

 

I want to identify and discuss the statistics that I take seriously, not provide a point-by-point rebuttal to clickbait. The Census Bureau indicates that 16% of Albert Leans are in poverty. And according to our own Community Survey data from 2018, 30% and 31% of respondents positively rate the city’s overall economic health and employment opportunities, respectively. Only 34% gave a thumbs up to the housing options available in the city. So what are we doing to turn those numbers around?

He goes on to explain that they take those numbers seriously and are working with several different agencies, including receiving a grant from the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation to get more in home day cares certified, to help with the child care issues. They are looking at what needs to be done and identifying different grants, etc, to help with housing.

Image Credit: Teresa Kauffmann

So, while the original story paints Albert Lea in a less than flattering light, they are aware that they have some things to work on. Nothing is perfect and they are seeing what I imagine just about every other city in our State is seeing. Some things are working very well, some things need to be tweaked a bit, and some things need a lot of work. From what I could tell, Mr. Gabrielatos is taking these numbers seriously, and is willing to put in the work to make Albert Lea better every year.

Thank you to Jerry Gabrielatos for reaching out and giving me this information. He ended his guest column with the following:

I began my career in Albert Lea by going door-to-door, asking residents what the city could do to help. Housing, child care and an improved economy were the themes of those conversations. Five years later, I feel like we have made progress, but know that there is more work to do.

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