Free Lot On The Prairie

In order to reverse its depopulation trend, one North Dakota town attracts young families with gifts of free property.

In Divide County, North Dakota, economic development director David Olson had the idea of giving away five housing lots acquired through back taxes to newcomers. Olson explains the housing lots are "more of a nice gesture, to welcome people." The goal of this gesture was to entice young people from other parts of the country to move to northwest North Dakota, start families, and repopulate the area. Of the 25 counties nationwide that lost the largest portions of their populations in the 1990s, 12 were in North Dakota. It is also the least-visited state.

The Northwest North Dakota Marketing Alliance, founded by businessmen in 2002, was formed to attract people from other parts of the country to move to North Dakota. The idea was that they would put down roots and create new generations of northwest North Dakotans.

The city turned to the Internet for help, creating PrairieOpportunity.com, a type of online personal: "Do you have what it takes to be a 21st-century pioneer?"

Northwest North Dakota is selling itself based on a small-town way of life, however, it's possible that newcomers may change that idyllic atmosphere.

Full Story: Not Far From Forsaken

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