Mike Levsen has a problem most mayors would love to have -- he's got jobs galore coming to his tiny town of Aberdeen, South Dakota, and isn't sure he has the workers to fill them. The attraction of Aberdeen might not be obvious to all, but it must be to some, with companies like 3M and Wells Fargo adding hundreds of new jobs. New and expanding ethanol plants are likely to add further to the demand for new workers.
Aberdeen is not alone in this. Other towns in the Great Plains are seeing growth. People are moving to small towns, as anyone looking at recent Census numbers can see.
The issue of recruiting people is a hot one for Levsen. He had planned a major marketing campaign to attract companies, but with so many jobs, the real question is not where's the beef -- South Dakota has lots of that already -- but where will the workers come from. One refreshing thing about Levsen is his sense of reality: he's not trying to get the "hip and cool" to his town of 25,000. The big attraction of small towns like Aberdeen is low crime, good schools, lot of churches, and nice people. In other words, it is a place to attract families.
"We are looking at all this as an opportunity to atract families mostly," Levsen says. "It's a nice problem to have. People are coming here from places like Minneapolis to find a nice middle class life. And you can do it here for $50,000 to $60,000 a year."