Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Rural residents pool money, resources to save, revive local businesses they deem important

After the Blue Moose Saloon closed in Renwick, Iowa, locals
bought it and re-opened it. (AP photo by Charlie Neibergall)
In some rural towns with declining populations, residents are taking matters into their own hands to revive faltering local establishments, Scott McFetridge reports for The Associated Press. For example, in Renwick, Iowa, where the population has declined from 500 to 235, locals responded to the closure of the town's only bar by pooling their funds to buy the business and fix it up so it could reopen.

A similar situation occurred "in the Missouri River village of Decatur, Neb., where a dozen people put up money to help the owners rebuild when the Green Lantern Steakhouse burned in 2008," McFetridge writes. "The restaurant, established in 1956, was what brought people into town and served as the main meeting spot in the community of 450 an hour's drive north of Omaha."

Another example is in Kiester, Minn., where "the 486 residents went so far as gaining approval from the Legislature for the city to own the local food store," McFetridge writes. "Residents later formed a co-op, and the Kiester Market sign says: 'Proud to be community owned.'"

Also, in Bowdon, N.D., with a population 135, residents "created a co-op to save a meat-cutting plant after the owner died," McFetridge writes. "Although it only employed a few people, co-op board member Larry Crowder said it was 'the busiest place on Main Street,' and residents feared Bowdon's cafe and co-op grocery could fail if the plant wasn't there to draw people into town. They managed to sell 100 shares at $5,500 apiece to fund a new plant along with grants."

This item was first posted Jan. 3 but was reposted as part of overcoming a technical issue.

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