By Lance Evans
(Editor's note: We'd like to thank Lance for his hard work with us this spring and summer! Good luck, Lance!)
Recently I was lucky to attended the Midwest Rural Assembly in South Sioux City, Nebraska. The Midwest Rural Assembly was a two day event that featured presenters, round-table discussions and delicious locally-sourced foods.
In addition to a round-table about beginning farmer programs and food access in rural areas, I attended a discussion about leadership in rural communities. This discussion group was lead by Muriel Krusemark the Director of the Hoffman Economic Development Authority in Hoffman, Minnesota.
Muriel told us a brief history of Hoffman. Before Muriel arrived on the scene it was a familiar story in some rural areas. Businesses were closing, people were leaving and the town was taking a turn down a rough road. Luckily for Hoffman, Muriel was there to grab the wheel and turn the town around. With her unique approach to economic development she has taken the community to new heights.
More than 20 new businesses, a weekly farmers market that draws over 1/3 of the 672 residents and new facility that houses four health care professionals are a few of the staggering changes that have taken place with Muriel leading the community of Hoffman.
Muriel uses community building as a way to build the economy. Muriel has a map of the town on her wall with the name of each resident written on their property. When a new family moves to town Muriel rallies the troops and brings a welcome wagon, complete with freshly baked cookies, to their doorstep. She makes it a point to get people in the community involved in the economic growth.
Muriel's great success is a lesson to economic developers and rural citizens everywhere. Look inside your community. Rural communities are bursting with potential entrepreneurs and creating a sense of community amongst citizens can lead to amazing growth in rural areas.
Muriel is an excellent example of using economic development and community development hand in hand to make a town realize its potential.
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