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Shannon Latham, candidate for Iowa Senate: Together We Can Grow North Iowa!

Shannon Latham
(via social media)

Shannon Latham
Republican candidate in Senate District 27:

While Iowans don’t tend to think of themselves as rural residents unless they live on farms, communities in North Iowa are technically rural. Rural areas, as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, are all population, housing and territory not included within an urban area that has a population of more than 50,000.

Recently I had an opportunity to attend an economic development forum sponsored by First Security Bank & Trust at North Iowa Area Community College (NIACC) where Ben Winchester with the University of Minnesota Extension Service was the keynote speaker. Winchester’s research shows that many people in their 30s want to move out of big cities. They prefer low-density living found in small towns and outer suburbs, and that’s why many areas are gaining population.

“It’s a quality of life, or a ‘live-force’ issue,” says Winchester. “These newcomers choose your town for what you are, not what you were. They don’t want to hear about what used to be here, so watch how you talk about your town so that you do not enforce the negative rural narrative.”

Winchester challenged the approximately 90 people in attendance at the economic development forum on March 29, 2017, to change the narrative from, “We’re located in the middle of nowhere” to “We’re located in the middle of everywhere.”

Proximity to both Minneapolis and Des Moines was attractive when my husband and I decided to move to North Iowa in 2003. We looked at housing in several communities but ultimately chose Sheffield because it’s equidistant from my husband’s hometown of Alexander and my hometown of Greene. We loved that Sheffield has a public library, community swimming pool, locally owned restaurants plus gas stations and Casey’s Pizza. We also were looking for a strong school district with small class sizes. Plus, we appreciated how welcoming residents were.

Our area is also blessed with recreational attractions like Clear Lake and cultural attractions like NIACC’s Performing Arts Center where you can catch Tony Award winning shows and performances by Grammy winning artists. The Surf in Clear Lake also attracts top performing artists, and Mason City is home to the world’s only remaining Frank Lloyd Wright designed and built hotel. Interested in local foods and brew pubs? Our region offers that, too!

North Iowa has so much to offer, and together we can make it so much more. Winchester said communities should advertise the things people like to do, so like-minded people move to their towns. Today’s technology makes it possible for many business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs to work from “the middle of everywhere.” As these small businesses grow, they provide jobs to keep the next generation in North Iowa and also help us attract more business and more skilled workers. Maintaining current residents and recruiting newcomers keeps our communities vibrant and our schools viable.

With a 20-year record of building coalitions and strategic partnerships, I’m running for Senate District 27 to put my experience and passion into action. I know that together we can build a stronger region through economic development, career technical education and rural revitalization. Together we can grow North Iowa!

Shannon Latham
Sheffield, Iowa

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