How 3 Iowa Towns are Getting Smaller but Smarter through Iowa State Program

A handful of Iowa communities and a group of Iowa State University researchers are trying to demonstrate that less can be more, and small can be vibrant. If you’re smart about it.

In an outgrowth of community surveys begun a quarter century ago, ISU researchers have identified what they call “Shrink Smart” communities. Like so many others, particularly smaller free-standing rural communities, they have steadily lost population since the 1980s recession and farm crisis.

Yet, the Shrink Smart communities, according to survey data, are viewed by their residents as having a high quality of life. They’re safe. They’re nice places to live and raise families, and to have fun. They also have good internet access, making it possible to work as well as live there. Many feature historic older houses and preserved, reused commercial buildings and schools, and small business startups.

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Submitted by Amy Karns on