Are there things we can learn from smaller towns

A press release and associated fact sheet from Harvey related to economic development that appeared in yesterday’s Minot Daily News can’t help but leave one to ask, is there something we can learn from smaller towns – specifically about economic development?


Eleven new business opened in the Harvey area in 2018, creating a banner year for economic development, according to Harvey Mayor Ann Adams. This despite the fact that the year opened with distressing economic news — with the announcement in December 2017 by the Canadian Pacific Railroad that it would be removing approximately 60 paid positions from its Harvey Yard Facility.

…and then things changed.

The Harvey area’s new businesses include two information technology firms, a pharmaceutical manufacturing firm, a hair stylist, construction and upholstery repair firms, a tree service entity, a liquid waste handling facility and two firms providing financial services and products. At the same time, the town reports on existing businesses adding shifts, expanding service or employment, branching out… all signs of economic vitality.

Congratulations are due Mayor Ann Adams, the leadership and business operators in Harvey. Of course, congratulations are also deserved by Harvey residents for supporting the local economy. The community has done a terrific job.

So, is there something we can learn from Harvey or other smaller towns? Minot (currrently) has smart and capable political leadership, it has resources, character, legacy, smart business people and a population with noble commitment to the city and region. And yes, there are businesses opening.

However, what people see and comment on are empty storefronts, incomplete development, roads to nowhere, bad deals from the past for which we are paying today, taxes that went up too much too fast for many. An entirely reasonable argument can be made that Minot doesn’t do economic development as well as other cities. We do a lot better than other cities on many front… maybe just not this. We have a more responsive government than some in the past.

Still, economic development remains a question and a quandary.

So, what is there we can learn from smaller towns?