Eden Prairie, Minnesota, was ranked the #1 Best City to Live by Money Magazine in the August 2010 issue. The Money Magazine Take Charge Live event was billed as “an informative and engaging event designed to help you gain insight into the economy and your own finances.” This article is a review of the event held at Eden Prairie High School.
I was interested in the event to learn about what investments might be good at this time with the economy in the poor shape that it is in. I searched online to see what topics might be discussed, but did not find anything but the information sheet saying that Money Magazine would be traveling to some of the top cities on their list and presenting this event.
As I approached the signin desk, I felt something was amiss. There were hardly any people visible, mostly just the organizers. I was there at the published starting time of 6:30 p.m.. I had pre-registered at the Money Magazine site and walked to the reception desk. I thought that maybe people had avoided coming or were delayed because of the protest taking place outside the event.
See the details of the Eden Prairie, Minnesota, school boundary map protest and hundreds of picket-waving parents here: Picket Signs and Protestors Line Eden Prairie MN Street to Money Take Charge LIVE Event
I was given a nice gift bag filled with some goodies, like a couple of Money Magazine issues, including the August 2010 issue touting Eden Prairie as the #1 Top Place to Live; a Lowe’s reusable shopping bag; a bookmark with the 20 Best Money Sites; some informative money-related articles; and a Money notepad.
A photographer snapped several pictures of me and I immediately regretted wearing my very Minnesota-looking fleece jacket with an embroidered moose on it. There were a handful of attendees near a huge catered (by local grocer Kowalski’s) buffet table filled with delicacies, expensive cheeses, fancy desserts, and a wonderful beverage selection. I chose some cheese and crackers, a little torte with a glazed walnut on top, a fruit kabob, and a chocolate-covered pretzel.
“Snap, snap.” I was being followed by the photographer. I didn’t want to take a bite. More people came in, but I still felt exposed. I approached a couple and started networking. We wondered out loud if we had gotten the start time wrong. We speculated that people had been scared away by the protesters. We also oohed and aahed over the glorious buffet.
Finally, the doors to the auditorium were opened and the 75 or so people filed in. The stage was professionally set, with four stools, small tables covered with black tablecloths, crystal water glasses and an impressive MONEY-emblazoned black backdrop. The spotlights were aimed at the stage. The Eden Prairie mayor, Phil Young, welcomed Money Magazine and praised Eden Prairie for being the #1 Top Place to Live. He also warned that he did not want any questions regarding the “local issue” protest outside.
When the panel came in, there was an air of anticipation. The panelists included writers and editors for MONEY, including Craig Matters, Carolyn Bigda, Paul Lim, and Walter Updegrave. What followed was an interesting discussion between the panelists. They each gave some background and then gave examples from their own lives about investing at their respective ages and situations. In that way, I think they touched on areas that would apply to people of various ages in the audience. Most of the advice was general. Some of the advice pointed to articles in MONEY that could be looked up later by any interested attendees.
There was also a Q & A section where people in the audience could ask questions. There was only time for about five or six questions at the end. The panelists were engaging, sometimes humorous, and interesting. It almost felt like a pilot for a TV Money show, and there may be more cities visited in the future. The next Take Charge Live Money event will be held on Nov. 8, 2010, in Franklin Township, New Jersey, which was rated the 34th Best Place to Live.
Best Places to Live Money’s list of America’s best small cities:
Register for the Money Take Charge Live Event in Franklin Township, New Jersey: