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The Future of Small Towns: Idea Generator
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The Basics

Small towns across the state are shrinking, but surprisingly, more people moved to rural areas from urban ones in the 1990s. Immigration and urban migrants are boosting the population and economic fortunes of greater Minnesota towns in the northern and west central lakes regions.


What the Experts Say

The benefits and challenges of immigration
Latino immigrants and minorities have bolstered rural populations in several communities, but towns have struggled to help Latinos overcome language barriers, succeed in education, and develop good relationships with local law enforcement. [Source 1, Source 2]

Population grows, for now
Rural areas lost population to urban areas in the first half of the 20th century; but more people moved from urban to rural areas during the 1990s than the reverse. Rural counties drawing retirees and recreation-seekers experienced the greatest growth. In the next 20 years, the state projects rural Minnesota's population will age and shrink. [Source 1, Source 2, Source 3]

More from MPR:
Document Rural Minnesota Continues To Lose Population
Document Small Towns in Rural Minnesota Are Getting Smaller
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Ideas for: People

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2 rating
(2 votes)
Get groups of people to move to small towns
I think one barrier for metropolitan people thinking of moving to small towns is the prospect of finding no like-minded people there. A town could approach an existing social (religious, political, o... Read more

From Sandy Gallagher of St. Paul, MN on 06/07/05

2 comments | Vote/comment on this entry



3 rating
(3 votes)
Build innovative, green homes to draw new residents
Many small towns are surrounded by natural areas suitable for carefully planned development. I would propose that small towns engage a creative architect to design innovative, small-footprint, ecolog... Read more

From Gary Olson of Duluth, MN on 06/07/05

3 comments | Vote/comment on this entry



3.5 rating
(2 votes)
Create student loan forgiveness programs
One way to attract young, energetic teachers to rural schools is to offer recent college graduates "forgiveness" for all or part of their student loan debt if they teach for five years or more in a ru... Read more

From Kris Bigalk of Minnetonka, MN on 05/30/05

2 comments | Vote/comment on this entry



3.5 rating
(3 votes)
Support racial and GLBT diversity
So many young people who are minorities of race or sexual orientation, especially, feel that their towns do not want them, need them, or even acknowledge them.

We need to reach out on an individu... Read more

From LeAnna Lesmeister of Moorhead, MN on 05/27/05

3 comments | Vote/comment on this entry



4.5 rating
(6 votes)
Diversity makes small towns friendlier
Most of the small towns I've seen and visited in Minnesota are mostly homogenous. Just as Prairie Home Companion covers the issues between Catholics and Lutherans and their distrust of each other, ev... Read more

From Jan Fisher of Pine Island, MN on 05/27/05

6 comments | Vote/comment on this entry



3.5 rating
(3 votes)
Establish a council of town elders
Establish a council of elders whose mission is to set a vision for the town and look after the community families and members. Their mission is to set a direction and promote the harmony of the commu... Read more

From Gregory Chester of Cass Lake, MN on 05/26/05

3 comments | Vote/comment on this entry



4 rating
(6 votes)
Invite the Minnesota Design Team to town
Has anyone heard of the Minnesota Design Team? They are a group of volunteer urban designers, planners, landscape architects, community organizers, civil engineers, transportation planners, architect... Read more

From Michael Musty of Saint Paul, MN on 05/24/05

6 comments | Vote/comment on this entry



3.5 rating
(2 votes)
Recruit citizens
Recruit citizens by selectively offering them land in exchange for them relocating to and starting new businesses or contributing in some other way to the economy in that town.... Read more

From Thomas Hielsberg of Saint Paul, MN on 05/24/05

2 comments | Vote/comment on this entry



3 rating
(4 votes)
Focus on what will enable the next generation to stay in small towns
What's it going to take so that our kids can raise their kids here if they want to?

I suggest some serious conversations to define just what it will take. We need to get beyond "jobs." We need to ... Read more

From Dick Brooks of Spooner, WI on 05/23/05

4 comments | Vote/comment on this entry



2 rating
(1 vote)
Develop cooperative/communal living communities
Moving to the big city in search of an income is not all its cracked up to be. The social breakdown that often accompanies the anonymity of living in a large city is one of the biggest challenges for... Read more

From Chris Brazelton of Delano, MN on 05/20/05

1 comment | Vote/comment on this entry



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