St. Paul, Minn. — Rural cities and towns want to define their future, but the challenges in creating sustainable economic development can be great. How communities look ahead is at the center of many of today's debates.
Minnesota Public Radio's regional reporters profile various cities and towns to examine the issues, choices and outcomes as rural communities plan for tomorrow, in a project we call Hard choices for small communities.
There are many options, but all are challenging because they require a certain amount of change. Economic development in rural areas must work with limited assets -- the proximity to labor or transportation, natural resources, or previous investment and infrastructure. Often, new growth must rely on existing resources.
Some cities focus on traditional industry or add new businesses to the mix, while others are changing their character with new companies and technology.
Regional hubs have sprung up with growing populations that create their own ring of suburban development, while in some cases, the 20th century company town is making the transition into a 21st century town.