I’m Rob Farnsworth and I still believe in the Iron Range. There are those who have said that the Range is dying and there’s no hope for our region. I don’t agree with that. When I drive through our towns, I no longer see empty storefronts and abandoned lots. I see opportunity. Where there was once a restaurant, now closed, I picture an upstart computer programming company. Where there was a burned out building, now an empty lot, I see a new restaurant. Where there’s an empty field, I see a new housing development. Where there’s an old mine pit slowly filling with water, I see endless recreational opportunities. If we use our imagination, we can picture all kinds of new endeavors on the Range.
What if we reimagined economic development on the Range? The Coronavirus pandemic has taught us that many people can, and want to, work from home. We’ve struggled to attract jobs to our area. Instead of only trying to attract jobs, what if we try to attract people who already have jobs who can easily work from home here on the Range? To accomplish this goal, we need to partner with the IRRRB and other development funds to target three main areas.
First, we need to provide incentives for developers to build affordable housing. This housing must include single family homes as well as better options for senior citizens looking to downsize while maintaining their independence. Currently, there is a shortage of single family homes for sale, especially newer construction. How can we attract people to move here if there aren’t homes to buy?
Second, we need fast, reliable internet across the Range. If people are truly going to work from home on the Range, they need to be able to connect to the rest of the world. This will have the added benefit of faster internet speeds for current residents, schools, and businesses.
Finally, we need more shopping and entertainment options. When a young family does move here, we want them to stay and become part of the community. I have personally witnessed too many young families move in and then move out, because of the lack of “things to do.” Although we have outdoor activities that many people are seeking, we need to offer more options for those with varying interests such as indoor athletics or dining options.
We know that raising a family in the Northland is the best kept secret in Minnesota. It’s time to spread the word that the Range is alive and well. Our best days are yet to come.
Candidate for the Minnesota House of Representative 6A