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Throwing Small Town North Dakota a Lifeline

January 9, 2007

As North Dakota's legislature gets rolling, rural advocates say one major challenge will be turning around the decline in the state's rural communities. Michael Holton of the Center for Rural Affairs says small towns are often low priorities for lawmakers when it comes to economic development, so the North Dakotans who live in them need to take an active role in making their communities attractive places to live.

"Community development is like a big puzzle with several pieces and economic development is just one of them."

Holton adds many communities struggle when key leaders refuse to accept or at least consider change.

"So if somebody else in the town would like to see something change, their first response is: 'Why? We really don't need it. Our town is good enough without it.' That seems to be one that's hit a raw nerve."

Holton believes there's a lot state and federal lawmakers can do to help during the current session, but he says small towns can take charge of their own destiny, by creating their own community development plans.

Debbie Aasen/Eric Mack, Public News Service - ND