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No vacancy is opportunity lost

MONTEVIDEO -- Anyone who doubts how important a diverse housing stock can be to a community need only speak to Gene Bies, mayor of Canby in western Yellow Medicine County.

He is proud to point out that the community of 1,710 has added 30 new homes in the last 10 years, thanks in good part to the continued growth of wind power companies in his area.

But like so many communities in western Minnesota, there has been limited development when it comes to affordable rental properties.

The wind power development program offered at the Minnesota West Community and Technical College is losing students to a competing program in Mitchell, S.D. It's as simple as this: Students have more housing options in the larger community to the west, Bies told those who gathered for a rural housing workshop Thursday in Montevideo.

"To think you are losing them because you don't have the housing,; it's a bummer,'' said Bies.

He said it's impossible to know how many students Canby might be losing because of the situation, but the city has been told this much: "You'd have a gold mine here if you had more housing.''

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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