Most small towns that are not the central city for rural counties face several problems keeping the lights on in storefronts, keeping population within the community, and in meeting human needs. The southeastern Minnesota city of Elgin, population 1,089, has overcome some such problems.
Drs. Julee Kinglsey, a dentist, and Colleen Urbain, a chiropractor, have offices in the Elgin Professional Building that the city purchased and renovated with the help of a $396,000 loan from the USDA Rural Development program. A feature on the Elgin public-private collaboration is contained in the current USDA Rural Development Newsletter from state director Colleen Landkamer.
The article can be found here. What Elgin has achieved is keeping and attracting medical professionals who serve both the surrounding area in Wabasha County and across the Mississippi River in Wisconsin. In turn, this supports residents’ decisions to live in rural areas because healthcare services are available, and it supports other merchants and services providers who gain from the traffic to the two doctors’ offices.
What the two doctors’ reveal in the newsletter is that they want to live and work in Elgin, for themselves and for their families. That is a tough sell for some small towns, but not for rural communities that have progressive local leadership seeking ways to attract and support service providers, entrepreneurs and others who become community-makers.