Rice County is located in Central Minnesota just 30 miles south of the Minneapolis and St. Paul metropolitan area. Interstate Highway 35 bisects Rice County from north to south, positioning the area as a prime location for future economic development. The County contains seven cities and fourteen townships. The two largest cities are Faribault with a population of 23,409 and Northfield with a population of 20,454. Rice County has a total population of 64,717 which is the State’s thirteenth most populous county; and it continues to experience positive growth. Rice County was organized on March 5, 1853 and is governed by the general laws of the State of Minnesota.
Boasting the natural beauty of numerous lakes, rivers, parks and trails and positioned in an area encompassing the historical boundaries of prairie and Big Woods, Rice County offers attractive opportunities for outdoor recreation and relaxation. Two premier liberal arts colleges, St. Olaf and Carleton, located in Northfield; along with South Central College, a dynamic community and technical college located in Faribault enrich the community. A rich history in agriculture thrives alongside a diversified business environment including progressive companies and green industry. Today’s diverse population brings unique benefits and opportunities to the region, offering a multicultural small-town experience with the convenience of a major metropolitan area nearby.
The Rice County Board of Commissioners is the governing body and consists of five commissioners elected from each district of the County. All commissioners serve overlapping four-year terms of office and each member of the Board serves on various committees. The Board appoints the County Administrator, who fulfills the role of chief executive officer of the County. The Administrator is responsible to carry out Board policy and provide leadership for the various County departments.
Rice County provides a full range of services including health and social services, tax assessment and collection, law enforcement and jail services, the construction and maintenance of highways and infrastructure, recreational facilities, planning and zoning, and general administrative services. These services are delivered through efficient operations with a focus on technology investment and innovation, enabling the County to maintain a strong fiscal position with one of the lowest per capita tax levies in the State of Minnesota.