Thursday, December 27, 2007

Tama County, Iowa, bucks trend of rural decline

At least one Iowa county is bucking the trend of rural population decline in the state, thanks to low housing prices, government-backed home loans and relative proximity to urban hubs, reports Ken Black of the Times-Republican in Marshalltown, in the county to the west.

"Tama County is seeing an increase in population among those whose ages range from 15 to 49, a key demographic of economic health," Black writes, quoting Lindi Roelofse, executive director of the Tama County Economic Development Commission: "We really believe at least part of this may be attributed to the fact that relative to some of the surrounding counties, starter homes are cheaper, specifically in Tama County. Also, there are a lot of programs out there to help first-time home buyers."

Black notes that some of those programs, such as those under the Rural Development umbrella of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, are available only in rural areas, and every town in the county is eligible for them. "Because of that, the county can be very attractive to young families who may be looking to purchase real estate, especially for the first time," he writes, also crediting the county's low cost of living and its location, "25 to 35 miles from an urban hub such as Marshalltown, Cedar Falls, Waterloo, or Cedar Rapids." The county seat of Toledo is at the junction of US 30 and 63, 23 miles north of Interstate 80. (Read more)

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