Skip to comments.(Midwestern)Towns offer free land to newcomers
Posted on 02/12/2005 5:01:01 PM PST by The Loan Arranger
Billy and Sheila Canaan just wanted out of Baton Rouge. They didn''t expect to be bit players in a new movement to keep the Great Plains from emptying. Billy gave up a $90,000-a-year deputy sheriff's job for one that pays a third as much. Sheila kept slipping on the thick ice of a bitter Kansas winter and broke a rib. Son Clayton reluctantly started his senior year at a new high school. To their Cajun palates, Midwest cooking had all the zing of roasted cardboard. (Clayton keeps hot sauce in his locker.) So why Kansas, when other rural states offer the same unhurried pace and relaxed lifestyle the Canaans sought? And why Ellsworth, a town of 2,900 with one grocery store, one stoplight and no mall, no fast food and no movie theater? Free land is why. Ellsworth's pitch is this: Agree to build a house here and pay nothing for the lot it's on. Got three kids in school? OK, that's worth $3,000 toward a down payment. Need jobs? We''ll help you find them. Still not sure? Come visit, we''ll show you around. The Canaans say crime and poor schools drove them from Baton Rouge. "Ellsworth has everything you could want," says Billy, 34, now a corrections officer at the prison here. "It's quiet. You don''t have to worry about your kids. Very low crime rate. Lots of recreation." The proactive mind-set here and in at least five other Kansas towns that give away lots to lure new residents (www.kansasfreeland.com) is one wrinkle in a new economic development strategy sweeping across rural America. The goal is to reverse decades of population loss from the decline of small family farms and businesses, expand the tax base, keep schools from closing and preserve a way of life. "I guess we''re so stubborn that we''re not going to let our town die," says Steve Piper, mayor of Marquette, Kan. For years, dying towns hustled the big score - a company with a big workforce - to turn their fortunes around. It usually didn''t work. Too much competition for too few companies. Or, a company came, went belly up and left an unemployment line. "The chances of getting one are slim in the abstract, and now we have 50 years of experience that shows it doesn''t happen in practice either," says Frank Popper, an urban studies professor at Rutgers University. It was Popper and his wife, Deborah, who in the 1980s advanced the theory - unpopular in small towns - that a Great Plains population bust was inevitable and that vast stretches should be returned to the buffalo.
I read that environmentalists plan a "rural cleansing." I am glad to hear the towns are fighting back.
BTTT for Dorothy, Toto, etal!
Keep my eye on this for later reading.
Save for later.
Kansas is pretty...
Will the "Native Americans" give as much problems to settlers traveling Eastwards as they did when the settlers first went Westwards?
I need about ten acres. Seen it to my place in Texas.
Does the buffalo know?
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