Monday, March 21, 2011

Small towns offer free land to boost populations

The Homestead Act of 1862 is no longer in effect, but some small towns are giving away land in hopes of attracting new residents. "As with the homesteaders of the 1800s, the new pioneers must not be the faint of heart—they can’t be the type to shy away from the trials of building a home from the ground up, or the lack of Starbucks on every corner, or unpaved roads," Colleen Kane of CNBC reports, highlighting some of the towns (and all of Kansas) with homestead-like programs.

Beatrice, Neb., has passed its own Homestead Act of 2010, which requires people who accept free plots of land to live on those plots for at least five years. Marne, Iowa, population around 150, recently made four free lots available to attract families to the region. "The decline of the family farm affects rural areas like this," Marne Mayor Randy Baxter said. "Back in the ‘60s and ‘70s, there more smaller farms, and small towns supported the folks in the country, but now those homes aren’t there anymore."

Kansas is a leader in the free-land trend. Local governments and development groups offer so much free land in the state that there is "an online hub to organize all the information, the appropriately named Kansas Free Land," Kane writes. Jenny Russell, Republic County economic development coordinator, explained "Most rural areas in Kansas have been declining in population since 1900, so rural Kansas communities either fight or disappear." CNBC also highlights New Richland, Minn. (in photo), Curtis, Neb.; Muskegon, Mich.; and Camden, Maine, but the latter two are offering free land to prospective employers, an old tactic in rural America. Bone up, Colleen!(Read more)

1 comment:

tyler said...

This could be great for the right type of person looking to settle in a rural area. Thanks for sharing.