Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Oldest Town in America

The NY Times sent reporter Peter T. Kilborn to study Ashley, ND (population 882) because it had one of the highest median ages (64.0 years) compared to the national average (35.3) and the highest percentage of people 85 years and older (6.6%). The NYT was shocked that a small town in rural ND would have these stats rather than a town in FL or AZ. They came to town hoping to find that this German-Russian immigrant town had some special diet that extended the life span of its residents.

Kilborn was deeply troubled when he went to the local café on his first morning in town and found virtually everyone eating biscuits and gravy, pancakes and sausages. I’m guessing that there was a lot more grease being used in Ashley than what he had seen in NYC. He wrote, “Gerontologists say high-fat diets shorten lives, but there is little evidence here that fat, salt, sweets or cholesterol struck down many of these people here before 80.”

The reporter had a great time, ended up eating like the locals by the end of the week and went back to NYC understanding that Ashley’s extremely high median age was due to out-migration of its young people and not because of some New Age diet. His new theory was summed up in the headline for his story, “North Dakota Town’s Payoff For Hard Lives Is Long Life.”

Knowing the aging issue before I went, I traveled there with some trepidation. I wasn’t sure what I would find but was pleasantly surprised with the attitude of the residents there and their open minded approach to many of the items that I discussed.

The community has tried to attract new jobs, one of which is Noridian, a Blue Cross/Blue Shield outsourcing operation that verifies Medicare claims for 11 states.

I really liked Lake Hoskins just to the west of town, but was told that Dry Lake (it was dry until the floods of 1997) is actually a better fishing lake. There are lots of northerns, walleyes and perch. This area has a great potential with the fastest growing spectator sport in the USA, bird watching. The lakes are a key asset for bird watching.

Housing is a concern for towns like Ashley. There have only been 5 built in town in the past five years. Existing houses are VERY cheap. I went by one house (see picture below) that sold for $5,000. These houses are being purchased by hunters and fishermen who are using them during the spring and fall. The old flour mill (see picture below), which has 16” thick wooden floors can be bought from the county for $1. It was built in 1910 and would make a great retail/apartment complex.

I asked Lynn Anderson who had moved here five years ago from Southern UT about the challenges of living in Ashley. Her husband is the local dentist and they have six children, aged 13 to 23. Lynn told me, “We like the lifestyle. The town we moved from was growing too quickly and had lots of problems with overcrowding in the schools. The hardest thing for us is to fit in socially with such an old population. But, we’ve made friends with people from neighboring towns and are very comfortable living here in Ashley.”

Ashley has developed a strategic plan to improve their community. The Americorps was in town with nine young people helping to spruce up the community and the town is doing their first ever rodeo this year. Ashley is working to do everything that it can to survive and prosper as a community.

My welcome on state highway in Ashley, ND Posted by Picasa

Old flour mill in Ashley, ND; For Sale $1 Posted by Picasa

Americorps Volunteers in Asheley, ND Posted by Picasa

$5,000 house in Ashley, ND Posted by Picasa

NFL Training Camp in Five Days

Some communities work years to get a shot at an NFL training camp and have at least one year to prepare for the 3 week camps. Prescott, AZ (population 33.938), one of my top 100 agurbs®, had 5 days to put one together, when the outbreak of a strange flu-like norovirus hit Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff where the team normally trains.

Here’s what they did in those five days. They turned a trail into a road for easier access of the players to the practice field; built 96 NFL sized lockers from donated Home Depot supplies (I wish I had a picture of Jane Bristol, Prescott’s ED Director building those); swapped out twin sized dorm beds for queen sized beds fit for 300 pound linemen; helped wash the 2,000 towels/day that are needed in a training camp; and numerous other activities.

The impact for Prescott is estimated at $2 million, equal to what a Flagstaff study showed in 2003. It also brought numerous media mentions about the town ranging from Phoenix TV stations to Sports Illustrated. It’s hard to put a value on those regional and national mentions.

The Cardinals moved back to their home base of Phoenix this week. I’m sure that they left with a very favorable impression of what can happen when a small town puts their mind to accomplishing what many would consider an impossible task.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

I Played Tennis at Wimbledon!

My high school tennis coach is not going to believe that I played tennis in Wimbledon! Unfortunately, it wasn’t THAT Wimbledon but rather the one in ND. Actually, the one in ND is the only incorporated Wimbledon in the world. And I played tennis there and got a shirt that says, “I played tennis at Wimbledon.”

It reminded me of a friend who was a college president who talked of opening colleges at Harvard, Yale and Princeton, IL. His plan was to market these colleges to wealthy international families who could boost of having sent their children to school in the USA at famous named colleges.

It never happened, but I’m convinced that Wimbledon has an opportunity to work cooperatively with larger Valley City to get people out to the town, take their photo on the local tennis courts and then sell them a t-shirt like what I was presented.

Wimbledon has 237 residents and 70 of them showed up for my talk, the highest percentage that I’ve ever gotten from anywhere in the USA. It showed me how much the citizens were looking for some ideas on what they could do to revitalize their town.

The community has taken some body blows in the last several years. The local elevator was shut down four years ago between Christmas and New Years. Dozens of farmers who were to receive payment for their grain after the first of the year never got paid. Dwaine Huber, a former teacher, insurance agent and local mover and shaker was convicted of USDA payment limitations fraud and sentenced to five years in prison. The café is closed and the elderly owner of the grocery store is talking of closing his store this fall.

But with all of the bad things that have happened in the town I found people upbeat and receptive to looking at what they can do to improve their lot.

Dick & Linda Grotberg, area farmers hosted me at their farm guest house. They were an entertaining couple that used to have a 5,000 head farrow-to-finish hog operation but today have refocused their efforts upon developing a sustainable farming model that they hope to share with others. They are doing pasture raised poultry, hormone free beef and other sustainable activities.

I plan to subscribe to the Wimbledon Newsletter and follow what this small town does to reinvent themselves. Stay tuned to future updates.

Wimbledon, ND Museum Posted by Picasa

My I Played Tennis in Wimbledon shirt presentation Posted by Picasa

Playing tennis in Wimbledon, ND Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 29, 2005

City of Bridges Connects with Neighboring Towns

“We started working on the National Sheyenne River Valley Scenic Byway in 1996 when ND announced a state wide program. We were designated as one such byway in the state and then in 2002 we gained a national designation. We are one of only 96 such designations in the country.” Mary Lee Nielson, head of the Rosebud Visitors Center in Valley City, ND (population 6,826) told me about the 63 mile byway’s origin. It is formed along a glacial melt-water trench.

A lot of people and communities working together have resulted in the project becoming a $1.5 million investment that is bringing in tourists and breathing life into the region. The keys of how the project originated and its impact were educational to me. First, the community had to recognize the potential of the project. They started with “2 sheets of plywood” to designate the byway, but have grown it tremendously over the years. They leveraged 39 different funding sources for the project with 24% from state and local government organizations; 30% from the private sector and 56% from the federal government. Part of this funding came from in-kind services from the National Guard. They also didn’t try to reinvent the wheel, but visited numerous other national scenic byways. It’s not “rocket science” but shows what can happen when people work together.

Valley City is also taking the lead in other collaborative endeavors. The Sheyenne Valley Growth Alliance is an oval shaped area that stretches 30 miles east and west along I-94 and 50 miles north and south. Its focus is upon economic development opportunities in the region. The Tech Center is another cooperative venture of the local EDC and Valley Center State University. The venture recently landed Eagle Creek, a software services company with a focus upon outsourcing solutions internally within the USA in low cost locations like Valley City.

The city also has a strong industrial base with companies like John Deere with 250 employees, which makes its air seeders in the town.

The downtown also impressed me. In 1990 there were 19 open store fronts in the downtown but the community got together to see how they could compete, especially with the big boxes in Jamestown and Fargo, 30 and 50 miles respectively from Valley City. New apartment buildings adjacent to the downtown will add to the allure of its downtown. Landmark Apartments has 17, 1,200+ sf apartments that rent for $600 to $1100/month in a converted grocery warehouse and the Elks Club conversion has resulted in 11, two bedroom apartments. Landmark II was coming out of the ground when I was there. This $3.5 million project will result in 37 new apartments in a new five story building which will also include retail on the ground floor. New apartments are also being done on the second floor of the old downtown buildings.

The quality of life attributes for a town this size are tremendous. They have a four year University, a wonderful 27 mile long lake and a series of eight very unique bridges that cross the meandering Sheyenne River. One of the more interesting artistic items I saw was the Medicine Wheel Park which was started by Valley City State University professor Joe Stickler in 1992. The Medicine Wheel measures 213 feet around and has 28 spokes that radiate from its center. In addition to the solar calendar it also features a replica of our solar system.

Valley City was an impressive town that has learned how to work together and as a result is creating some very unique opportunities for its residents.

Landmark Apartments in Valley City, ND Posted by Picasa

Medicine Wheel; Valley City, ND Posted by Picasa

Elks Club convereted into apartments Posted by Picasa

Recollections from Branson

“Sixty Minutes in December of 1991 changed everything. We started getting calls from all over the world. We were getting so many that we had to set up a phone bank. We weren’t set up for the volume that we were getting nor did we have it in our budget. For a period of time we were probably the only Chamber in the world that had a 900 number, where people had to pay to get information on our town.” I was talking with John Bowers about his days as president and CEO of the Branson, MO Chamber of Commerce from 1990 to 1996. Today he is the Executive Director of Arizona Association for Economic Development (, where I was keynoting a talk to their rural conference.

John talked about how the community transformed from a small, local market into the superstar status of today, “For a time we lost control of the local market. These big egos from New York and Los Angeles came in trying to dictate what we should do. It took awhile for Branson to gain back its soul.”

“We went from a $300,000 to $400,000 budget to $2.5 million in six years. And, back then we did it without a room tax. The Chamber improvised to make ends meet. We did a two cassette tape package that had one track from each local performer that we sold until the real boom hit and everything just took off.”

He told me that his best perk on the job was, “I was on hugging terms with each one of the Lennon Sisters when they were doing the Lawrence Welk Show in Branson.”

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Other Business Successes in the Empowerment Zone

“Metro-Trak got 100 applications for 10 positions when they opened here,” Jerry Sandstrom head of the Cooperstown EDC told me when were touring their facility. Metro-Trak keeps electronic tabs on offenders in 8 states. No, they didn’t track Martha Stewart. I asked! ND is looking at beginning to track sex offenders in the state with new GPS tracking technology that Metro-Trak is bidding on. They also have a unit that allows them to monitor alcohol consumption of those being monitored.

Cooperstown, ND (population 1,053) is the largest town in the Griggs-Steele Empowerment Zone. It is also home to Sheyenne Tooling (100 employees); Posi Lock (100); and Rieten Manufacturing (20).

A relatively new company with great prospects for the future is EasyRisers (, which has developed a relatively simple system of raising chairs for anyone who has difficulty rising from a seated position. The 1” to 5” EasyRisers are made from blow molded plastic and are strong enough to support a 3,000 pound van. The company has recently landed a contract with Home Depot for 700 stores and hopes to move its product into the 2,100 Home Depot stores nationwide in 2006.

In nearby Finley, ND (population 515) where I gave my talk, Fetting’s Frozen Products employs 50. The company supplies in-store bakeries with frozen breads, donuts, cookies, cakes, pastries, etc.

Finley also has a town owned bar, something I’d never see before but which someone told me is fairly common in more remote areas of ND.
Sandstrom told me, “The Zone was created because of the out-migration problem, but we are finding that people will move back home for good jobs. That’s what we are striving to do…find more good paying jobs for our residents.”

Easy Rider chair lifters Posted by Picasa

Tribal Casino Develops into a Diversified Base

What began as a small bingo hall grew into a casino and today is allowing the 900 member Yavapai Nation to diversify its economic base in Ft. McDowell, AZ. The tribe owns a sand and gravel operation, farms and orchards, an outdoor wild-west theme park and RV park. It also has invested in a golf course in nearby Fountain Hills and a Radisson Resort in Sedona.

This is a young tribe with over 50 percent under the age of 21. A new elementary school should help to prepare those young people for the 21st Century.

I didn’t get a chance to ask when I was in AZ last week, but I hope that they are working on the entrepreneurial spirit of these young people.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Empowerment Zone’s Impact

“We were one of 66 areas that were after the only out-migration designation when the Empowerment Zones were being set up in the U. S. in 1996. We didn’t know if we had enough players in each town to put it together, but we were able to put together a 3 inch thick grant application in a four month period and got it to Washington D. C. 20 minutes before the deadline” said Orville Tranby, one of the visionaries who pushed for a solution to improve economic development in the two county Griggs-Steele Empowerment Zone. The zone’s focus is upon value-added agriculture, housing, tourism, and medical services.

Initial funding for the zone was set at $4 million/year for a ten year period but has gradually been cut to $1.5 million/year. “All of the other zones were based upon poverty. Ours was one of only two; the other was in Maine, which were based solely upon out-migration. It is crazy that we don’t qualify for anything under the poverty regulations. Unfortunately, out-migration solves the poverty problem.

Keith Monson told of the transformation in the two counties, “We used to live or die from agriculture. It was a big challenge getting people to change their mind set, but now we are much more diversified.”

Griggs and Steele Counties are still heavily ag based and are challenged with a rapidly aging population. Their combined population of 4,577 is spread over 1,420 miles, just over three people for every square mile. The two counties had almost 8,000 people in them in 1970. Their median age is in the mid 40s compared to 36 years of age in the USA. In Griggs County there were 3 times as many people who died as were born last year and there are 8 times as many people over age 65 as there are in the pre-school age group.

In addition to funding for new projects, the zone has set up industrial parks in each of the small towns and provides very generous tax credits for new jobs created. The projects in Hope and Hannaford that I blogged on previously were funded by the Griggs-Steele Empowerment Zone as well as several that I’ll blog on tomorrow in Finley and Cooperstown.

Brenda Dissette, Marketing Director of the zone spent all day showing me around the zone and introducing me to the many players who are working together to create new economic opportunities for their citizens. I was very impressed.

Friday, August 26, 2005

School Closes—What to Do?

The school, bank and grocery stores are so important to most small towns that I travel to. Hannaford, ND (population 181) lost their grade school last year in a consolidation The local EDC bought it from the school district for $1 and has put a computer training room, library (all donated books), craft room, gym, community center and business incubator into the space. Hannaford is turning lemons into lemonade.

It was interesting to look at the High School graduation pictures that were still on display in the school, which at one time hosted all 12 grades. The high school closed in 1990 with a graduating class of 10. Its largest graduating class was in 1971 when 20 graduated. The smallest was in 1985 with 2. Even I could have made Salutatorian that year!

The EDC faced the closure of their only grocery store several years ago, bought it as a community project, ran it for 3 years and sold it in 2003 to a local couple who have expanded it.

Recently the community landed Prairie Bilt Sleds, which builds ½ of all of the Iditarod sleds out of lightweight aluminum. The company will employ 10 in its new 5,000 sf building. I hope that Hannaford is able to leverage this company into even more economic opportunities.

Grocery & Gas in Hannaford, ND Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Hope for Hope

“We were looking for something at our ag marketing club that could provide economic development in Hope,” Clark Lemley, secretary of the club told me. “We did a $40,000 feasibility study of buying the La Rinascente Pasta Company in S. Hackensack, NJ, a family owned business focused upon ethnic pasta for the Caribbean. The business had been started by John Natali’s father and his son didn’t want to continue the business due to the increasing costs of operating in NJ.”

The group raised $650,000 from 50 investors, primarily in Hope, ND (population 303), an amazing amount for such a small town. They raised another $2.4 million from banks, the USDA and other sources.

Production started in January, 2004 initially focused solely upon the company’s traditional market but with plans to contract produce specialized manichati, flat lasagna, shells and other niche pastas. “We’re looking for products with a high screw around factor,” CEO Claude Smith told me of how they were going to stay away from being a commodity producer.

The company is doing $3 million in sales and has 16 full time employees who earn an average of $14/hour. It is a tremendous boost for Hope.

Hope, ND Pasta Plant Investors in front of plant Posted by Picasa

Tombstone at a Crossroads

Fifteen minutes of fame can transform a town or it can quickly fade into oblivion. October 26, 1881 was such a date for Tombstone, AZ (population 1.504). Wyatt, Virgil and Morgan Earp gunned down Billy Clanton and Tom and Frank McLaury that day in what has been sensationalized by Hollywood as “The Shootout at the O.K. Corral.”

Tombstone was a boomtown then, silver having been discovered there only four years before. It was named for a prospector who was warned that if he ventured into Apache territory he wouldn’t find anything but his tombstone. The town has been thru booms and busts in its history, including two fires that burned it to the ground. I used it at my AZ talk last week, citing its slogan “The Town Too Tough to Die” as the type of can-do spirit that towns need.

Today, Tombstone is at another crossroads as it wrestles with its historical designation. The National Park Service, which administers landmark status on buildings and communities, has listed Tombstone’s status as “threatened” because its buildings aren’t historically correct. Only 3% of the 2400 historical buildings in the USA are so classified primarily because of deterioration, not because they have embellished them as they are accusing Tombstone. In September the town will hold three days of public meetings to decide how to preserve its historic designation.

It will be an interesting debate to follow and will undoubtedly determine the future direction of the town.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Lisbon’s Downtown

“You’ve got to create a sense of place and the best place to do that is in your downtown area”, is what I often preach when I’m on the road. The transformation that is taking place in Lisbon, ND (population 2,300) has that town’s downtown on the right track.

Al and Betty Michels have spent four years redoing the old theater on Main Street, making Lisbon one of only 27 towns in ND with its own theater. It costs $5 for adults and $3.50 for children for the one show per night that they do on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. They also are redoing a three story downtown building into retail on the ground floor with four apartments on the upper floors that they will rent for $550 to $600/month.

Sheryl Kelly has a wonderful love for her home town. She bought a shuttered 120 year old hardware store and recently opened Ho-Den-Attes, which stands for Home, Garden and Antiques. She’s also started a coffee bar/deli in the back. She told me, “I just couldn’t stand to see another empty building in our downtown. We’ve tried to keep the charm of the old hardware store in our décor. I want to make this a destination stop for people.”

Judy Larson, President of the Opera House Restoration Board, showed me around their 10 year project to restore the three story landmark. They’ve spent $300,000 to date on the $1 million project. The opera house was built in 1889 in a four month period for $20,000 when Lisbon was the fastest growing city in the state. It was last used as a J. C. Penney store from 1929 to 1988.

Lisbon also has a new baseball diamond, skate park and wonderful outdoor pool. They have 75 acres of parks, not bad for a town of 2,300.

One big asset for the community is the town of Gwinner (population 717) that lies 25 miles south of Lisbon. It is home to Bobcat Equipment (, a company that was started by a local farmer in 1950 and is now owned by Ingersoll-Rand. They have 1,200 employees in town and many live in places like Lisbon. Bobcat is a key driver of economic prosperity for much of the region.

Theater in Lisbon, ND Posted by Picasa

Opera House in Lisbon, ND Posted by Picasa

Ho-Den-Attes in Lisbon, ND Posted by Picasa

Downtown Lisbon, ND Hotel converted into Apartments Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Bless My Bloomin Cookies

“We’ve sold to 46 of the 50 states since we started in December last year,” was how Elise Nylander explained their growth to me. I couldn’t understand how you could possibly sell enough cookies to keep Elise and her partner Julie Ussatis employed along with 4 others making cookies in Enderlin, ND, a town of 947. But they quickly convinced me when I saw their cookies and learned of their marketing plans.

“We do 70% of our business over the internet and only do 30% on a local basis.” They also changed their original plan of stamping the cookies and instead hand-paint each one. They make bouquets of their cookies baking them on sticks. Don’t you love the one that they did for me below?

It took them two years of experimenting in a church basement kitchen to figure out how to get everything right. But now they are rolling! Midwest Living Magazine was there earlier in the week interviewing them for a story that will run later in the fall.

They are now doing fund raisers with pizza slice cookies that they guarantee to stay fresh for four weeks. Future plans are to franchise their idea. Check out their website at and order yourself a bouquet.

Wine shaped cookie idea with container Posted by Picasa

My boomtown bouquet Posted by Picasa

Elise & Julie in front of their store Posted by Picasa

Elise Nylander and Julie Ussatis with their creation for me Posted by Picasa

New Town to 34,000 in Thirty Years

Oro Valley, AZ (population 29,700) wasn’t founded as a city until 1974, but is already becoming a major commercial center. I was in Oro Valley last week for the Arizona Department of Commerce’s Rural Economic Development Conference.

Mayor Paul Loomis talked about the growth going on in the town, “The latest census survey showed us with over 34,000, quite a growth from the 2000 census. We’ve got a household income that is 50% higher than the national average. We also have almost twice the percentage of college grads when compared to the national average.”

Oro Valley added a nice touch to their town in 1997 when they implemented a “1% for Public Art” program, which requires private commercial developments to dedicate a portion of their construction costs to creating and installing public art. Today Oro Valley has soaring sculptures, mosaic murals, beautiful paintings and whimsical architectural elements that set it apart and help them to create a special sense of place.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Lonely Newton

I’ve been to Newton, IA (population 15,579) many times. It is the headquarters of Maytag which recently put itself up for sale, a move that has rocked the community. Newton is a typical “company town” like Hershey, PA; Bartlesville, OK; or Rochester, NY. I wrote recently about Rochester, where Kodak has cut the workforce from 62,000 to 16,300 in the past 25 years and recently announced another 10,000 layoffs that will take place during the next two years.

Newton has gone thru similar cuts, from over 4,000 employees in the town four years ago to only 2,800 today. And, with a sale to Whirlpool announced today, it’s likely that number could fall dramatically. About half of the local jobs are manufacturing ones, which pay on average $34,000/year. Most of the headquarter jobs pay much more. Newton is likely to be devastated with what occurs as a result of this merger.

Maytag started in Newton in 1893. The nearby Amana Colonies originated the Amana brand at about the same time. There obviously has been an “appliance cluster” in this east-central area of Iowa for quite some time and brought a great deal of prosperity to the region.

I’ve seen what happens to towns that lose their major employers. I’ve lived thru it in my hometown. It is a gut-wrenching time for most local citizens. Perhaps the worst period of time is in that indecisive time, when you know that something bad is about to happen, but you just don’t know how bad it really is going to be and you imagine the worst. Virtually every town that I’ve seen go thru what Newton is going thru, end up recovering, being wiser for the experience and making the best of a bad situation. I don’t envy Newton right now, but hope that they land on their feet.

Energetic Enderlin

I just love to get to a town extra early for a talk so that I can take a tour of the community. I wasn’t disappointed that I flew into Enderlin, ND (population 947) late the night before my presentation so that Tamra Kriedeman, the local ED person, and Jon Morris, president of the local bank, could fill me in on the economic activity and give me a tour.

Jon told me of how he and 30 other individuals in the town each invested $10,000 to buy, demolish and rebuild their only motel in town. The 17 unit motel was an $800,000 project that wouldn’t have happened without dedicated local people working together.

We visited several entrepreneurial trucking operations, one of which has gone from hauling fly ash from the boilers at the local ADM crushing plant, to backhauling tree waste and grinding it for an alternative fuel source. Dwight Fraedrich, started the business in 2001, did 15,000 tons of wood chips last year and plans to do 40,000 tons this year. He has seven trucks, has over $1 million invested in wood grinders and plans to expand into grinding used rail road ties. He plans to double in size in 2006. He is typical of the inquisitive, innovative entrepreneurs that I always meet in my travels.

Jon helped to coordinate the financing for an $8 million terminal grain facility that is able to load unit trains of grain. It involved merging five separate grain coops together into a new LLC and is a wonderful example of working together regionally, rather than only looking at it from one individual communities standpoint. Keith Brandt, local manager, told me, “We did 17.8 million bushel last year and loaded 36 unit trains. We are now the biggest shipper on the CP’s USA lines. We’ve been able to unload as many as 230 trucks/day.”

Enderlin’s big industry is an ADM crushing plant on the outskirts of town, which employs 100 people. It was built in the early 1980s as a sunflower crushing plant and billed itself as the worlds largest. The plant burned sunflower hulls as a fuel source, which worked just fine when sunflowers were king in ND. But today sunflowers have been replaced by soybeans and the plant has been converted into a switch plant, able to crush numerous oilseed crops. They’ve added edible bean production and soymilk into a new building on the plant grounds.

Plant Manager Richard Irish explained to me why Dwight Fraedrich’s work is so important to his financial success, “At today’s fuel prices we will save $400,000/month by using wood products in our boilers versus using oil or gas.”

We toured other entrepreneurial enterprises in the morning before my talk. Jane and Sherm Syverson bought the local hardware store 8 years ago. Sherm told me, “We compete on service. We have a Mayberry mentality about things—we can do that!” Kevin Hartl is expanding his meat locker to be able to sell all over the state. Joe and Kelly DeNardo and their children Angela, Tim and Montana moved to Enderlin a year ago and opened a new restaurant downtown. They are originally from NY, but as Joe said, “we don’t miss the lack of traffic jams at all.” And Ruth McCleerey bought the local weekly newspaper in Enderlin 14 years ago.

There are a lot of pieces moving at the same time in any town, but when people work together and entrepreneurs are encouraged like I saw in Enderlin, it all comes together. Enderlin was a very impressive town for its size.

Ruth McCleerey, publisher of the local Enderlin newspaper
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Joe and Kelly DeNardo and two of their three children, Angela and Tim Posted by Picasa

Sherm and Jane Syverson: Hardware Hank's Posted by Picasa

Jon Morris & Richard Irish in front of ADM�s Soymilk and Dry Bean Plant
 Posted by Picasa