Austin flies in the face of stereotypes about small towns in decline. Construction crews are hard at work here, putting up a $35 million, 100,000-square-foot community center that will include everything from indoor running tracks to warm therapy pools. It’s slated to open later this year.
So why is Austin, nearly two hours south of Minneapolis, doing so well? It’s home to the headquarters of Fortune 500 packaged food maker Hormel. The company spends millions improving the community and attracting talent.
“People from everywhere come here,” says Kristen Olson, a community concierge at the Austin Area Chamber of Commerce who helps newcomers transition to living in the town, including those in refugee resettlements. “We have some 50 languages spoken in our schools.”
Home buyers tend to live in cozy, century-old, two-story houses that go for around $90,000.