Small towns, big ideas


by Trent Wells | June 15th, 2009 • In an effort to combat the slowing local economy and spur population growth, many small towns across Southern Minnesota are offering extensive incentive packages to home builders and buyers. The cities of Preston, Eyota, Spring Valley and LeRoy all began offering incentives to build a home in their town in the past year.

Hindsight is the official blog of Minnesota 2020. Hindsight gives the run down on the news that jumps out at us on the issues that matter. Often times these stories show us how much further we need to go to have the progressive policy realized in Minnesota.

The city of Preston offers one of the most generous packages to new home buyers. Anyone who builds a new home receives a free one-year pass to the local swimming pool and golf course, free trees and free utilities for the first few months.

Even the less generous plans still offer some great bargains. For instance, one of the benefits of a new house in LeRoy is no charge for hooking up the water and sewer systems.

Builders are encouraged to put more people to work through incentives, such as waiving the building permit fees on new homes. Preston also has a fund to help finance projects that create more jobs for the city.

Many of these small towns have another incentive that serves a dual purpose. LeRoy, Spring Valley and Preston all give out between 1000-1500 “dollars” or “bucks” that can be spent at businesses within the town. These “dollars” give the local economy a tremendous boost, especially the businesses that serve new home owners. Spring Valley reported that appliance stores and landscapers had seen the biggest increase in customers from this program.

Having the new residents complete their new home needs in the town has an additional benefit besides simply stimulating the local economy. It welcomes and integrates the new home owners into their new community. The new residents can become acquainted with a broad swath of the town as soon as they move into their new house. The “dollars” encourage new homeowners to stay in the town and interact with the local business leaders and their customers.

All of these incentives will spur the local housing market, but more importantly they give these small towns a chance to grow and become more vibrant communities.

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