GRANITE?FALLS?- Yellow Medicine County Assessor Connie Erickson had some encouraging news for the county board at its regular meeting on Tuesday. Economically, the county is growing or holding its own in almost all categories.
Erickson addressed the board to give an overview of 2011 property assessments.
Agriculture is 85 percent of the tax base of the county, according to Erickson, up 1 percent from last year. Residential declined 1 percent to 12 percent of the tax base. Valuation of agricultural properties increased by 9 percent, less than the 15 percent increase in 2010, but it's still an encouraging figure.
There was no change in residential property valuation in the county in either 2010 or 2011, Erickson said.
However there was $9.1 million in new construction, an increase of $1 million over last year, mostly in agricultural facilities. Commercial/industrial valuations remained unchanged from last year.
An interesting picture of economic growth emerged when Dawn Hegland, executive director of the Upper Minnesota Valley Regional Development Commission, gave the board a report of preliminary findings of a pilot study on demographics and migration in a five-county area that includes Yellow Medicine County.
The study, titled "Regional Recruitment: Strategies to Attract and Retain Newcomers" is a joint project of the UMVRDC, and a group of local economic development professionals working with Ben Winchester, University of Minnesota Extension research fellow. The project used a combination of demographic statistics and personal interviews to find out why people move to the area.
The results so far have been surprising, according to Hegland. In spite of slight overall population loss as young people leave rural areas and small towns, there has been an overall increase of people aged 35 to 45 in every county in the region. They tend to be well-educated with higher-than-average incomes, and are more likely to buy or start businesses, take leadership positions in the community, and engage in volunteer activities. Sixty percent of them had no previous ties to the area.
Hegland said interviews revealed many came to the area before they had jobs lined up, and a large number went from two incomes to one or took a career cut to move here. The top three reasons given for moving to the area were: lifestyle, a good place for children, and good schools.