U.S. Sen. Tina Smith met with local business leaders and employers at Two Harbors' Vanilla Bean restaurant Monday, Nov. 25.

Smith, who leads a bipartisan rural working group in the Senate, led the discussion on local efforts to create jobs and economic development in the region to find out what the federal government can do to offer more support.

Leaders cited the need for more affordable housing in the region to allow more workers to move locally, the need for more local industry, and workers skilled in trade jobs to fill open positions. Others brought up the need to find ways to attract students to stay in the community following graduation or return after college.

Smith, also a member of the Senate Education Committee, discuss her work to expand investment in workforce training so that local employers can find enough workers with the right skills to fill job openings.

Lake Superior School District Superintendent Bill Crandall cited the need for more child care and the desire to create more internship partnerships to give students a better shift into the working world.

Greg Ruberg, president and CEO of Lake View Hospital, spoke about the clinic and hospital expansion and reinvesting in the community.

Following the hour-long session, Smith headed to Grand Marais to discuss work needed to improve health care in rural communities.