Is LF destined for a snooze-fest?

DSC01437A friend of mine said that in his neighborhood in Little Falls, MN, most of the people who live near him work elsewhere. He referred to the city as a bedroom community, where the housing is cheap but there are few jobs, so people live here and commute to other cities to work. Because they spend so much time on commuting and working, they rarely get connected to the city in any other way.

Is Little Falls destined to be a bedroom community? Does it exist merely to provide cheap housing for larger communities? If so, how do we make the most of the city in this light?

If not, how can we encourage those who come for the cheap housing but leave for work to get more involved in the community, or at least feel they belong?

 

5 thoughts on “Is LF destined for a snooze-fest?

  1. Hi, Not sure I can reply this way, but I will try. I have quite a bit at stake with the commercial/tourist success of Little Falls. I am banking on the completion of the bike trail and hopes that it will bring people to my inn (Great River Inn).

    I am a little reluctant to reply to your questions online at the blog because as a newcomer I don’t want to make waves that could jeopardize my standing in the community.

    I do have some ideas about some things that might need to happen with the city to get people to engage and to attract people to the community in a long term healthy way. I am hoping to be part of the discussion, though I am not sure how to get into the discussion.

    Christian Andrews Great River Inn

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    • Christian – Thanks so much for leaving a comment. I have heard from others your concern about speaking out because of the economic implications it could have on business. It’s a delicate dance we engage in, publicly addressing issues in a small town. As I’ve said elsewhere on the blog, there have been numerous meetings about improving the community, but we never seem to get past the planning phase. I’ve also been part of meetings where the convening organization is more interested in pushing its agenda, rather than being open to unexpected ideas from citizens. How do we move through the gridlock? I’m not sure, but we definitely need the input of people like you.

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  2. Among the good people of Our Little Town (and other communities I can think of too), a certain contingent wishes to prevent progress that could raise expectations beyond their own aspirations. My father-in-law tells of people he knows who have opposed economic development on the grounds that it would bring higher-wage jobs that would drive up costs for everything else, from housing to a restaurant meal. As ludicrous as this sounds, it makes a certain kind of rational sense, as a form of proactive jealousy. To avoid the risk of having someone steal your spouse, first marry a troglodyte, then systematically prevent his or her self-improvement.

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    • I have been involved with efforts to improve the community for most of my adult life. The day it dawned on me that most residents are perfectly happy with the town not making any progress was a major revelation for me. What the heck am I working so hard for when people don’t want things changed? If they’re happy, why wreck that for them?

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  3. I don’t think that putting a label of “bedroom community” on Little Falls is a good idea as it may give those who don’t live here the wrong impression.
    I would agree that many residents commute out of the city for employment because there are few jobs to keep people here. I was one of them, with my last commute to Sauk Rapids. When that job left for China, I chose early retirement. My perspective…Retirement opens up the door for someone else looking for work.

    This city is no different than most cities of this size. They are all trying to attract new business for the sake of employing their residents and be able to increase city tax revenue. Some are sucessful, others are not. Many of the larger employers that were in Little Falls in the 50’s & 60’s are no longer here, and that’s what the city needs.

    The politically charged statement during the past elections are still resonating in my head…”jobs, jobs, jobs”! If you believe that the economy has recovered since 2008, guess again. Many of the “jobs” created since then are part time, many with no benefits. If you believe that the unemployment figures are accurate, guess again. There are many people whos’benefits have run out and they are still unemployed. What happens when their savings run out, presuming that they had any to begin with? Many have lost their homes as a result. Sounds like another “welfare” recipient in the making.

    This country, and this community, needs to get back manufacturing jobs from China in order to put people in meaningful jobs. President Reagan, with his “free trade” act, ended import taxes on items coming in from other countries. This flooded the country, and still is, with cheap goods. When that happened, the only way for U.S. manufacturers to compete, was to send their manufacturing operations out of the country, mostly to China, where labor was cheaper. In order to regain what we have lost, we need to start charging an import tax based on the value of the merchandise entering the country. This, in turn, may cause the lost manufacturing jobs to return. This might even entice a foreign company to set up manufacturing in this country in order to save those import taxes. Another way to look at it is, if you don’t have a job, you can’t purchase that big screen TV that you’ve been looking at in the store…if you had a job, you probably could purchase that TV, even though the price may be higher.

    Some jobs have been lost to robots, and many more will be lost in the future. That should mean that the schools should be teaching more students about robotics, in fact, it should be stressing the need for people who can build, program, and repair robots. Of course, the Little Falls school district thinks that more money should be spent on a “sports” facility instead of any academic program.

    When the annual group of young adults graduate in the spring, what will be the percentage who remain in Little Falls? Many will leave for college. When they graduate from college, how many will return? The answer to both questions is “very few”, and that’s purely a matter of economics. Wages, typically, are higher in a larger city, and when you live in a city where there are few choices, or your career choice has no local options, a person can’t sit around and wait. When you’re making only a dime above minimum wage, and someone tells you that you can make a dollar above minimum wage in another city or state, all one has to do is “do the math”. It’s really one of those “no brainer” decisions.

    Little Falls, in the past, has been responsible for keeping competition out because the business owners didn’t think that the residents of the city would drive out of town to shop. Their prices were higher than surrounding cities, and when people found out about that, they started doing their shopping out of Little Falls. I have heard that this is still true. People spend more time shopping in Brainerd and St. Cloud than they do in Little Falls. Ask any teen, if given a choice, where they would shop, and what would be the reason. The biggest reason they would probably give is “poor selection” or “limited selection” in Little Falls.

    When Little Falls can get some major manufacturing jobs here, and the business community isn’t afraid of competition, maybe this city will grow. Maybe this city wouldn’t exist as, what I’ve heard some say, a “welfare town”. Maybe it needs to “rethink” how to attract business growth, such as lowering the business tax rates, not just for a new business coming into the community, but for the existing ones as well. Maybe some robotics students will return to Little Falls and start a robotics company. Maybe we should have a year-around circus to attract visitors…oh…I guess that we already have that, according to one member of the community!

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