In many ways Mitchell County is thriving. With an abundance of jobs, strong school systems, hospital and daycare expansion projects and a variety of retail offerings, what more could a family moving to our community want? Perhaps some better housing options. While poised for continued growth, our housing stock over the years has not kept pace with the needs of our population.

Retirees may be considering downsizing a bit in order to spend less time maintaining a property and more time traveling. Young families with limited bank accounts are looking for starter homes that are move-in ready and have been updated with energy efficient systems. Young singles are interested in something with a small footprint that offers more time for an outdoor, active lifestyle. Newcomers to town are looking for quality rentals so they can size up the area and decide if Mitchell County feels like home.

To be honest, our shortage of housing options is our biggest barrier to growth. We have the opportunity to recruit new working families into the area by the dozens. However, without additional affordable, workforce housing choices, we are severely limiting our business community and their ability to recruit and retain the best and brightest. Our Minnesota friends are pleased I’m sure when our workforce settles into Austin and other communities, but it is not in our best interests to continue this trend.

Our housing market impacts our quality of life. We take pride in communities with well-kept, maintained homes and nice landscaping. It affirms our love for small towns with strong neighborhoods and a sense of place and belonging. If we hope to keep more of our youth in our communities and attract new families, we must be sure our housing supply is keeping pace with needs and sending a strong message of “Welcome home to Mitchell County.”

If you’ve not yet taken an opportunity to review the results of our 2017 housing study, please visit our website at www.mitchellcountyia.com and read through the comprehensive findings and recommendations offered. If you have ideas to share, we’d like to hear from you. As Mitchell County prepares an action plan to tackle the housing shortage, bring your suggestions or news of vacant properties that can be renovated and rented or offered on the market.

The path forward is clear. Mitchell County communities—government entities and private sector employers, builders, landlords must continue to invest financial resources and innovative ideas into new and improved housing to grow our communities. Let’s make sure there’s room for newcomers to “Come Join us!”

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