Luverne, Bachelormania, small-town America
Jim Mone/AP
Palace Theater, Luverne, Minn.

Small Minnesota Town Tries to Purchase Population

July 25, 2008 10:18 AM
by Anne Szustek
A farming town in southwestern Minnesota is paying people to move there, hoping to rejuvenate the local economy. But can rural America be resuscitated?

30-Second Summary

Luverne, Minn., a county seat with a population of about 4,000, has clean air, safe parks and new development. In fact, the agricultural town is so confident that people will fall in love with its charms that it is offering $2,000 per member of a family that buys one of 15 city-owned lots and builds a new home there.

On top of that initial payout, a package developed by the Luverne Chamber of Commerce offers new residents free haircuts, champagne and swimming lessons.

Luverne resident Jill Wolf left town after high school. But, as she told CBS affiliate WCCO, “After … experiencing more of the city life, I decided that small towns are really a great place to live.” Wolf is now the city’s economic development director.

Decades ago, the rural United States was upheld as the ideal blend of bootstrap capitalism and clean living. But, unlike Wolf, many young residents who leave their small towns have not returned. For family farms and businesses, this means fewer customers and fewer helpers.

Big-box retailers and corporate-run agriculture haven’t helped matters. A 1997 study conducted by Iowa State University economist Kenneth Stone suggested that towns lost nearly half their retail trade within a decade after Wal-Mart entered the market. And Nebraska’s North Platte Bulletin decried the potential entry of factory farms into the area. “It’s not the way small towns in the upper Midwest were built and definitely not the way small towns will survive.”

See WCCO coverage

Headline Link: ‘Minn. Town Offers Cash Just To Live There’

Reaction: ‘Local Economy Needs More Market, not Marketing’

Opinion & Analysis: Small town America

Related Topic: Bachelormania in Herman, Minn.


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