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Guest Editorial

Luverne and Rock County are unlike 95 percent of the small towns in America. While tens of thousands of small communities see businesses closing and people moving away, we are at the brink of what can be the most exciting growth in decades.

I remember in the early 1960s when Mid-Pack came to town. That plant was the “spark-plug” for community growth in both the residential and business sector. About 30 years later we witnessed the same type of revitalization when the Minnesota Veterans Home opened.

Now, within a few months we will see Premium Minnesota Pork open its doors. Businesses and services that support PMP will have the opportunity to expand, and more than 300 employees will drive the demand for housing and residential services.

Even if many employees commute here to work, they will still need food, gas and other auxiliary services and products. Large employers are the spark plug of many auxiliary businesses and services.

Premium Minnesota Pork isn’t the only bright spot driving changes in our future; there are many other factors that combine to make a big difference.

Think about the great broadband access Alliance has brought to Rock County — in areas that were previously not served or underserved. This offers the opportunity for telecommuting and the development of every location in Rock County.

Rock County is also poised to see massive investments in solar and wind energy in our county footprint. More than 400 construction workers will most likely start working on those two projects within the next year.

The Luverne School remodeling and construction project will certainly make the district more attractive for families looking for a great education in a great facility. Just think what that will do to draw new residents!

How about the state-of-the-art Minnesota National Guard Armory slated to begin construction in a couple of years? What will a facility like that, with available community space, do to draw residents and visitors, to strengthen the local economy?

Think about the construction of two new campgrounds in and around Luverne. Imagine the visitor traffic those recreational facilities will draw.

And then there is the Luverne LOOP, where half of the last third of the LOOP is scheduled to be completed this summer/fall. What a great amenity for residents and wonderful recreational opportunity for visitors!

How about Blue Mounds State Park? Just think—potable water for the first time in six years, bison buggy tours and now a new nature, recreation area in the reclaimed Lower Lake. Traffic at the park is destined to grow by thousands!

Think about the businesses in Luverne that are growing. Businesses like Midwest Dry Cast, Midwest Fire, GEVO and Hills Stainless Steel are bringing cutting edge technology, driving the growth of their businesses.

Then there is the railroad, with the Rail Authority and rail operator Ellis and Eastern cooperatively working toward improving the tracks built in 1905 to meet the current standards of rail cars. Just think about the short-line bridging rail service between the Burlington Northern and Union Pacific. Think how that can grow our local economy.

These are just a few of the things happening ... and there is more.

So, what should you do to help? Hear from people making these investments. Knowledge is power, and if you want to have power to make a difference, learn about what is and will be happening.

Make your reservation to attend the LIFT and Chamber Annual Gala and Community Report on March 20 (see the related story on page 1). You will leave the event “awestruck” at what our future can be ... if we work at it together.

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