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Bringing Boomers and Seniors Home in SD

September 13, 2010

YANKTON, S.D. - When young people graduate from small South Dakota high schools, many of them leave town, possibly for the last time, and as populations dwindle, towns often lose businesses and services.

Kathie Starkweather with the Center for Rural Affairs says communities should look at attracting Baby Boomers and seniors. She says many of those older people are looking for exactly what small towns offer.

"That's the basic quiet; I mean not having to be involved in the rat race, but also being allowed to participate in the community."

Starkweather says small towns may have to be creative in offering services that seniors and boomers are looking for. That includes access to medical services, cultural activities, and community gathering places like coffee shops.

She says those older people coming back can also offer new life to small towns.

"All the store fronts in many of our towns aren't going to be full, but recognizing the fact that maybe some of those folks can fill some of those store fronts, again in a creative way, where they may decide to start a small business, because a lot of the people who are starting small businesses,, by far, are people over 50."

Starkweather says small towns can begin to attract the seniors and boomers by establishing and updating their websites, detailing what their communities have to offer.

Jerry Oster, Public News Service - SD