Small Town Survival: Part Two | VideoJoel Porter | 2/21/2012
Heavy, wet snow is coming down in Ashley, which is good news to Marvel Haas, President of the Chamber of Commerce. "It`s a blessing to see a little snow once in a while."
This is the moisture farmers have been waiting for. In a town that sits along the South Dakota border, farming has driven the economy for years.
"The ag sector has been probably the backbone for all the years," said Green Iron Equipment store manager Lyle Fey.
That success has spilled over to the John Deere dealership. At this time next year, Fey will open a new larger shop on the edge of Ashley which will allow for even more inventory. "We`re hoping to add possibly six to seven or more jobs, which is huge in a community of our size," he said.
Every little bit helps. With an aging population, city leaders are selling the community as a place where affordable housing and jobs are plentiful. In some cases, it`s working.
"We`re getting a lot of people that are coming in from big cities who are tired of the hassle," said Jobs Development Authority Chair Sid Gross.
Mayor Kent Lovell added, "It`s always a challenge when you`re kind of isolated to a certain extent in rural North Dakota."
Ashley`s population is down by about 130 people since the last census was taken. But it`s not just prayer that`s kept the town alive.
"It`s all that pride and Germans are hard workers (laughs)," said Haas.
Next summer, Ashley will celebrate a birthday. One hundred twenty-five years since the first settlers homesteaded here.
Maureen Delzer with the Ashley Quascentennial Planning Committee said that party preparations are already underway. "We`re doing booster trips, getting out there and just letting people know that the celebration is coming up. We have a great little town here."
Meanwhile, those who are tired of a dry winter can`t help but look forward to warmer days ahead.
"We know it`s going to melt fast now," Haas said.
The city is also offering incentives, including up to a five-year tax exemption for start-up businesses.
Tune in tomorrow for the final installment of "Small Town Survival" where we focus on Hettinger, a town outside of oil country, which is trying to get by.