Let's Make 2020 the year of the community
If you looked only at the big picture, you’d have to say our nation lives in deeply troubled times.
It seems we’ve never been more polarized. Political discourse feels more like a war zone than a thoughtful national conversation.
But what happens when you zoom in more closely? After all, real life doesn’t happen nationally. It happens locally.
At the community level, we see people partnering with their neighbors to solve problems, working hard and playing hard, listening and compromising, and — quite often — making sacrifices for the good of others.
Locally is where we’re at our very best. It’s where we can use our influence and our gifts to make our communities strong and to make life better for everyone.
This was demonstrated earlier this month when a young widow wanted to keep the family acreage so her children can have the future opportunity to resume their late father’s farming career.
People opened their hearts (and their checkbooks) to the mother of five and gave her $38,000 to pay the mortgage and stave off any sudden discussions to move off the farm.
That’s who we are in Rock County.
The chaos and uncertainty of the past few decades have made us crave personal connections with our family and friends.
We want our children and grandchildren nearby, with good jobs to keep them here.
Months ago the city of Beaver Creek adopted a five-year abatement policy on new housing construction in their city. Their decision propelled Rock County to offer the same option for families building new homes in the county.
So far, three households have indicated they want to construct new homes in our communities.
In the past decade people have indicated they want lively downtowns with great restaurants, unique stores, trendy living places and plenty of fun things to do.
Luverne is putting out the welcome mat by getting rid of dilapidated buildings, offering incentives to build new homes and setting the tone for our existing and future residents to do business in town rather than drive elsewhere on the interstate.
Rock County just formed an economic development authority to work with interested companies to move their businesses TO Minnesota.
2020 will be the first year this newly organized group we hope will successfully put out the welcome mat for continued local industrial growth.
Closer to home, Hardwick is the first Rock County community to work together and create a duo tax district within their city limits, lessening the burden of our ag landowners funding city services.
We challenge everyone to join in making 2020 the Year of the Community.
We need to reach out to neighbors to connect with them, to help them, engage them in the work of making things better.
We should shop local.
We should partner with government the right way.
We should smooth the way for entrepreneurs.
We should galvanize our small business communities to give positive change.
We need to become ambassadors for our small communities so that others will want to invest, live, work and play here, too.
Celebrating all the good in our communities and working together to make them stronger will make for a 2020 in our little part of the world better in the years to come.