A May 2001 New York Times article talks about the plight of small towns and their economic struggle to survive. The focus of the article was a small town in Kansas but any of us can relate to their story. "There was no place here for them (his children) to take a job and make a living, every one of them would come back if there was a job here," said Jerry Helberg the only attorney in the city. "In the early 90's there was some hope for what demographers call a population rebound," said Leanard Bloomquist, director of the Population Research Laboratory at Kansas State University. But when large discount stores opened in nearby towns, those hopes also vanished.

So how is our small town? Are we struggling? Do we need to worry? Let's take a look. LaVictoria is our newest addition to downtown and local storeowners Vicki Gunness and LaVerne Nubson have every confidence that there is room for an antique, collectibles and gift shop in Pelican Rapids. Although it will primarily be limited to summer hours, it may be just what our town needs to give us a niche, a reason to take the long route to Fargo and go "crafting" in Pelican along the way. In addition to this new business, we have added four more new businesses to our community in the past year.

State Bank of Fargo opened on January 28, 2002. They are a full-service loan office and a division of State Bank of Fargo. They provide a wide selection of fixed and adjustable rate mortgage plans for home and lake property financing. Daren Berube and Barb Grunewald started this business with many years of banking experience.

Northwinds Gifts and Balloons is also new gift shop in downtown Pelican Rapids. Marlys Anderson of Moorhead and Marlene Brown of Vergas (sisters and twins) opened this store. Their store specializes in a log cabin motif and brings a unique look to our list of reasons to shop in Pelican Rapids.

Scoops Ice Cream and Sweets opened last summer and we are all secretly just as excited as our children about that! This is located just behind the Nettestad Insurance building at 19 1st Ave. NE. Sheri Nettestad said it was a childhood dream to have a store such as this and she has done it right. The decor and atmosphere match only the service and great ice cream treats inside.

Last but not least, we have a N.F. Field Abstract Company. Tom Morstad announced his office will expand services to Pelican Rapids and is located at the Dirk's Law Office Building on East Mill. N.F. Field Abstract Company has served Otter Tail County for over 100 years and provides abstract title insurance, real estate closing, escrow and other services.

In our vision we state: Agriculture, commercial businesses, tourism, lake property owners, rural and city residents, work cooperatively to aggressively promote, research, enhance, maintain, support and develop new and existing opportunities.

A vibrant, respected, friendly, and welcoming business environment encourages expansion of existing and development of new, commercial, industrial, and agricultural businesses that provide employment opportunities for all levels of income and talents. Investment and reinvestment into our community is recognized, encouraged and supported.

Overall, the community of Pelican Rapids is economically doing pretty well. Although many small towns do struggle, it is somewhat in our hands to influence the outcome. We need to buy local, take the risk to open new businesses and support those who do. We also have an Economic Development Corporation that helps new businesses just getting started to negotiate the complexities of all the contacts they must make including securing financial support, building space, etc. They also evaluate where we are and where we are going as an economic community. Not all of our success is by chance -very often, it is by design.

By Krista Shaw