WELLS, Minn. (KEYC) — Small Town America is currently struggling, losing residents to suburban areas, which then leads to closing business, closing schools and eventually, dying towns.
Wells, Minnesota, is a little bit different from most small towns in the sense that they are a thriving business community, built a new school less than a decade ago and are not showing any signs of slowing down.
“Small towns really have to find their niche with their business community,” City Administrator CJ Holl said.
The Humble Heart is a self-proclaimed ‘nickel and dime fun shop’ where sewing, home décor and other fun items collide.
“When I started here, I literally handed a guy a check and got the keys to the door, no plans, and kind of thought ‘I could do this’ and here we are!',” said Kristi Feist, owner of The Humble Heart.
Ten years later, The Humble Heart is in the midst of an expansion.
Moving down the street to a bigger building, the city assisted with inspections, while connecting Feist to the Wells Economic Development Authority, where they set her on the path she needed.
“Having the proper business plan written really helped. They were amazing to get help from,” Feist explained.
Across the street, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) recently expanded to include a full-service kitchen.
The City of Wells, because eating establishments are few and far between, found this invaluable to the community and made a rent agreement with the business for funding their own upgrades.
“We did all of the remodel and for that, they leased this to us for one-year rent-free. Even now, our rent isn’t astronomical, so it helped us out quite a bit,” explained Erin Eckwright, bar manager at VFW Post 1778.
And having a new school to attract people to town never hurts.
“The school is the heartbeat of many towns. Having a new facility really helps. It draws a lot of people to town for activities and sports. The school really is the heartbeat of the business community,” Holl added.
With two new business parks with land made available, some already signed and leased, business is booming in Wells.