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Continued: Harmony, Minn., will pay up to $12,000 for new residents

  • Article by: JENNA ROSS , Star Tribune
  • Last update: June 28, 2014 - 6:08 AM

Young professionals are “not a group that is having difficulty finding homes right now,” he added. “There is an excess of housing in this state in the $180,000 to $250,000 range.

“They’re competing in a saturated market.”

Harmony is eyeing Stewartville, a city of 5,900 just south of Rochester, which in 2013 began offering $5,000 to build a house or $7,500 to put up a commercial, industrial or multifamily residential building. More than a dozen people have taken advantage of the program, said William Schimmel Jr., the city administrator.

Stewartville is in the midst of quantifying its results, Schimmel said, including adding up new property tax revenue.

“It’s worked — very much so,” he said. “I know that some think, ‘Oh, those folks were going to build anyway.’ But we’ve seen new investment.”

Harmony’s population has stayed stable and its leaders aren’t hoping to grow to Stewartville’s size. But they wouldn’t mind a little of Stewartville’s youth. There, the median age is 34.

Rebate has some thinking

Harmony Enterprises employees gathered at noon on a recent Thursday to eat smoked pork chops and celebrate 400 days with no lost time.

These are people that Harmony wants to move in.

Chris Applen, 30, joined the engineering staff here more than three years ago and rented a place in town. He recently met with a real estate agent but because of student loan debt doesn’t feel quite ready to buy. The rebate’s got him thinking, though: “It’s not too often you come across an opportunity where a city is willing to pay you,” he said.

Applen grew up visiting relatives in Harmony, and his grandmother still lives here. But every other weekend, he treks to Rochester, about 50 miles away.

“Thirty-something isn’t exactly the demographic for this town,” Applen said. “I don’t mind it.”

He paused, then laughed. “It makes it tough to get married, but oh, well.”

 

Jenna Ross • 612-673-7168

 

  • related content

  • In Harmony, Minn., between $5,000 and $12,000 is being offered to those who build a home there, in a revitalization effort.

  • Mike Smith is operations manger at Harmony Enterprises, a big employer in the little town.

  • A Harmony resident walked to the post office. The southeastern Minnesota town has a population of 1,020 that is aging.

  • Southeast Minnesota cities

    Median age:

    All: 40

    Harmony: 51

    Median income:

    All: $54,200

    Harmony: $33,000

    Median home value:

    All: $129,800

    Harmony: $94,500

    Source: Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development

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