So, there, in a nutshell, you have the solution to turning the problem of a declining population around – more job opportunities and more housing. Sounds simple enough to fix, doesn’t it? Well, jobs and housing are far more difficult problems to solve in this community than one might think. For home builders to be interested in this community there has to be an unmet demand for housing. At the moment that demand doesn’t exist – at least to the extent required for home builders to take notice of us yet. Even more difficult is landing businesses here that will employ local people with more than a high school education.
Ideally, to stop the population loss, both things need to happen at the same time – breaking ground for a new high-tech or med-tech business and breaking ground for a new housing development to provide medium priced homes for the people the new business will hire.
Some progress is being made, however. As soon as the weather permits, work on the infrastructure for the new industrial park-north will begin and the extension of 16th Street will also be underway. That makes turning things around almost a chicken or egg conundrum. If the city or the ECDC talks to a prospective industry, one of the first questions they’ll ask is about housing availability. One of the first questions a housing developer will ask is about new job creation. That’s why, ideally, both things should happen at the same time!
But more people living here is still the basic problem and should be the goal with the highest priority. At least that’s the goal I would rank as most important to the future of Rush County. If we had the housing, we could attract people to live here, even if they work someplace else! And I can’t think of a more ideal place for a new housing development than on the south side of 16th Street extended. It’s a perfect area for medium priced housing – and that’s all that should be allowed in that area. The last thing this county needs is more low-income housing or HUD Section 8 housing. Nor do we don’t need more parking lots. We need people!