Minnesotans, especially those from the Twin Cities, know what it’s like to go through really small towns. A Minnesotan arrives at this small town, and one to two blocks later like a whiff of wind that person is already out of that town! But that small town feel is oh so very nice, especially when a person finds that small unique diner on the corner, or a really cute antique shop. Compared to the large metropolitan area of the Twin Cities, these rural Minnesota towns are just specks in the country-side and are still thriving.
When it comes down to small towns, people always wonder if these towns will ever last or end up being a ghost town. But good news just happens to be right around the corner. Many small Minnesota towns are thriving more than ever due to innovations in new technology, farming and manufacturing that is helping to rebound these small towns. So small towns, like Osakis, that were predicted to fade out, have a new lease on life.
Less than 30 years ago the town of Osakis was shrinking year by year. Its population was so concerning, it was said that the town was doomed to disappear. But all of sudden a bold offer was handed out that made global headlines. An offer of 5,000 dollars would be given to those who were willing to move there, build a home and stay awhile. That was the tactic back then to save dying towns, and now Osakis is thriving and does not need to pay people to stay.
So today, Osakis’ population is at an all time high. If someone currently lives in the Twin Cities, now would be the time to move into a smaller city while it continues to grow. Since the 1980’s the population has grown to nearly 500. It seems the school system is actually adding about a classroom a year. Osakis main street is almost full, a new distillery has grown from five 500 gallon fermentors to 29, and a sporting goods store is expanding at about 25 percent every year.
All across Minnesota, small towns like Osakis were starting to die out, but now it does show people how small towns can survive when once declared dead, said the University of Minnesota’s demographer Will Craig, from the Twin Cities area.
What was then called the new ‘Golden Age’ for land wealth and farm profits, about 50 Minnesota counties have the fastest economic growth since 2005 and it only includes one big Twin Cities county. Now, that is pretty amazing data to see for small towns, even compared to a larger Twin Cities county. People are commenting on how things are developing more and more, such as seeing UPS trucks every day, not having to use a dial-up modem for the internet, to seeing people coming in from the Twin Cities as semi-retired folk to just live life more calmly.
When small rural towns do survive, it shows how important they are to the economy of Minnesota, besides the huge metropolitan Twin Cities area. Just like it is important to support Minnesota’s local farmers and businesses, the same goes for small towns that help Minnesota farmers and small business owners that may live there with their families. It is what keeps Minnesota folk in rural Minnesota towns proud, happy and thriving.
By Tina Elliott