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The community of Ashley is located in rural, south central North Dakota, approximately 6 miles from the South Dakota border. The community supports a population of 882 according to the 2000 census, but draws from a much larger rural area for their labor force. The community is very active in promoting economic development projects and has been chosen as one of 12 communities nationally to participate in the National Center for small communities Technology survey. The community was recognized as a leader in providing technology options to rural communities. This was due in part to the outstanding leadership that our community has shown to aggressively move forward in community economic development. In 2007 Ashley received FHLB Des Moines 2007 Capital Community Award. Communities are chosen that are different from one another and use vision, planning and teamwork to revitalize or sustain their local economies.

 

Ashley is a progressive, rural community that has dealt with issues of rural distress, such as out migration, aging population, lack of head of household jobs and an aging infrastructure in a positive and proactive manner. The community has developed a strategic plan that has implemented priorities and addressed needed changes. As mentioned, the community has leaders who recognize the necessity of being better prepared and planning there actions, rather than being reactive to crises situations. We have determined that in order to experience growth and prosperity for the community, we have to encompass all aspects of community economic development.

 

As a community, we are committed to updating our infrastructure and housing. We have completed a major water and sewer upgrade, which included an extensive upgrade of our water treatment plant and encompassed the majority of the water lines and many of the sewer lines within the community, which includes initiating state legislation that was successfully passed to allow communities to build moderate income housing. This is especially a strong need in rural communities. There also funding options available within the community to purchase existing housing or build new housing and other state and regional housing funding options. The city has existing lots and developable land available to provide for housing and industrial building needs.

 

We have a very active Job Development Authority (JDA) which has helped many of the local businesses with financial assistance. We have an active Lions group that has provided funds for economic development projects. In addition, we have an organization called Opportunities, Inc. the parent organization for our community foundation. Ashley has the second largest community endowment fund in the state of North Dakota and we are able to utilize funds from the endowment fund in for community economic development projects. We have an Ashley beautification committee that has made progress in tearing down some old buildings, painting others and  and developing pocket parks on our Main Street. We have a quality Main Street in our community that demonstrates a community pride that many other communities are envious of and we have worked to help local businesses update their retail and service. We have just completed our Main Street project with Main Street being totally resurfaced, we worked with ND Dept. of Transportation for reconstructing the sidewalks, curbs and gutters as well as putting in new lighting and enhancements.

 

We have been actively pursuing an aggressive community economic development plan for Ashley. We have opened a plastics manufacturing company that is small but growing. We have graduated more than 10 licensed practical nurses from a distance learning program that enabled the participants to stay in Ashley and receive all of their training, which was a pilot program in the state. Ashley was a recipient of a grant from Blue cross/Blue shield to develop a pilot program for community program for community wellness which has been funded a second year due to the success of the program. The community is also an active alumni of the Dakota Heartland Champion Community, which is a USDA designated zone which encompasses one full county and three additional communities and is designated to promote economic development for rural communities. Ashley is also a member of the Northwest Area Foundationís Horizons Leadership Program, which is designed to address poverty issues and build leadership capacity. Ashley has been a community of great foresight: strong positive leadership and commitment to increasing the quality of life for the residents of the community, county and region. Included in this proposal are just a few of the partnerships, projects and funding that the community has worked on to better itself.

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