These are exciting times.

When people ask me about how my experiences are going in my first several months as mayor of Redwood Falls, that phrase is what comes to mind. Now more than ever, I am convinced the pathway for the community started by the leaders before me, is heading in the right direction in terms of quality of life and foundations for success in our community for years to come.

The RACC and Ramsey Park areas are terrific assets and set us apart from communities in our region. Complementing these with the soon to be improved Lake Redwood, the Orrin S. Estebo Career Development and Training Center, and Carris Health - Redwood construction, our community would be hard to match anywhere in Greater Minnesota.

As great as these things are, we have our work cut out for us to support them. By supporting them, I’m referring to jobs, and the people to fill those jobs. We are faced with this at a time when the U.S. economy has amongst the highest job vacancy rate our country has ever seen. Most of these jobs are good paying jobs that are going unfilled largely due to retirements and a smaller workforce to replace them. Employers are and will be faced with serious shortages of workers.

So what is there to do about it?

Like most problems, in my opinion, they are best solved by us. No one cares more about our community thriving than those of us who make Redwood Falls home.

So what can we do as individuals?

Talk to your children, your friends, your relatives and the people you influence about being the example of the type of person you would want to see in others. Be kind. Be helpful. Be respectful. Show everyone you meet what it means to represent yourself, your family and your community.

Your example will demonstrate that our town is one to invest your future into. It may surprise you how much your language and actions impact those around you, positively or negatively.

We can solve this worker shortage ourselves if we talk to and treat each other as people we admire through our examples. If we do this, more of our young people will want to stay, fill a job, buy a house, have a family and improve our community.

The Redwood Area School District graduates 80 or more students every year. If more of them envision themselves making their life here, then we’ll all thrive. If they leave and never come back, we will dwindle our population, our jobs and our resources, with them.

This has been happening in Greater Minnesota for years.

It’s time to reverse this trend, and it’s up to us to do it.

If I could change one thing, I would change how we talk to our young people about their futures. They don’t all need to leave to make a better life. Not everything good is far away from here.

We have it good here, and more people need to appreciate what we have and what we will become or at least be engaged in changing what is.

I know many people here like this, and for that, I couldn’t be more excited.

– Tom Quackenbush serves as mayor for the City of Redwood Falls.