Hard Choices for Small Communities

Hard Choices for Small Communities


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.

  • Mining shovelGrowing pains on the Iron Range
    The Iron Range in northern Minnesota is undergoing an economic transformation. How that will affect the long-standing communities there is open to question.May 22, 2006
  • Downtown OrtonvilleOrtonville hopes retirees provide a boost
    Ortonville, Minnesota, is hoping to reverse a population decline by attracting retiring baby boomers to town.June 28, 2006
  • Lots for saleBrainerd and Baxter deal with the ups and downs of growth
    The cities of Baxter and Brainerd in central Minnesota have seen rapid growth in recent years. Local officials are happy with the vibrant development, but some fear it will hurt the area's natural appeal.June 27, 2006
  • Grand Marais lighthouseResidents consider future of Grand Marais' harbor
    People in Grand Marais are arguing about their harbor. Some want to rebuild the marina on a grander scale. Others say anything much bigger would destroy the cozy feeling of the waterfront.May 2, 2006
  • Waffle trialWaffle Plan researchers convinced they can lower flood levels
    After four and half years of research, advocates of the Waffle Plan say it will reduce flood levels for cities and towns in the Red River Valley.April 17, 2006
  • Cobblestone CoveGrand Marais gets growing pains
    Visitors to the tiny town of Grand Marais, on Minnesota's North Shore, enjoy the idyllic setting, the slow pace of life, and the friendly small-town feeling. But locals are embroiled in a divisive debate about how much development is good for their town.April 10, 2006
  • The gasification/power generation moduleEco-industry looking to launch in Superior
    Promoters say ethanol from trash may be possible in two years. That's just part of what's planned in Superior, Wisconsin. The Twin Ports first eco-industry could be on-line in two years.March 15, 2006
  • Don DelvinArt centers help more than artists
    Many Minnesota cities take pride in their local arts centers. But what good do they really do? A new Humphrey Institute report says they not only offer crucial help to artists, they can even help revitalize neighborhoods and communities.February 28, 2006
  • Downtown ClaremontThe fight over Ripley Dairy
    Residents of a small southeastern township are demanding to know why they may lose part of their town to an outside developer's proposal. The town of Claremont has proposed annexing parts of Ripley Township, about two miles away. If it's successful, the land would be used for a large dairy.February 9, 2006
  • Extra dollars from the harvest
    Farmers are always looking for new ways to squeeze more money out of what they grow. One idea is to make boards from plant material. It's been a struggle.January 29, 2006
  • Bemidji group harnesses public opinion to plan for future
    Bemidji, Minn. has grown rapidly over the past few decades. Before its small town feel slips away, some residents are using an innovative new model to create a common vision for the city's future.November 21, 2005
  • Plans for small town airport service on hold
    Marshall, Minnesota, expanded its airport runway with the promise that Northwest Airlines would begin flights to the city using Mesaba Airlines, one of its regional carriers. Now that both carriers have declared bankruptcy the promise of expanded service is gone and city officials wonder if any other carrier will offer service.October 14, 2005
  • Court decides wastewater issue for Wright County towns
    In a decision that could slow development in fast-growing areas, the Minnesota Court of Appeals blocked a water treatment plant for Annandale and Maple Lake Tuesday.August 8, 2005
  • Redesigning Duluth
    People in Duluth are getting innovative ideas for the city and a team of designers has been in town for the last five days. They've been working with city residents to create a new look for the neighborhoods east of downtown.July 18, 2005
  • Minnesota town struggles as its school and hospital close
    Residents in Starbuck, Minnesota, are worried about the future of their community after the town's hospital and school shut down.June 15, 2005
  • Cirrus Design looks west
    Airplane manufacturer Cirrus Design is asking for help getting its airplane plant expanded in Duluth. Hundreds of new jobs could be at stake.June 7, 2005
  • Crookston considers the future of its historic buildings
    A local preservationist wants to save historic buildings in downtown Crookston. But county and city officals say theres not enough money to save every building.July 6, 2005
  • Massive feedlot proposed for western Minnesota
    Plans for what may be the largest feedlot in Minnesota are causing a rift among neighbors in Traverse County, on the state's western border.May 26, 2005

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