ELMA, Iowa (FOX 47) — The small town of Elma, Iowa is working to maintain their status as a “shrink-smart” town, a term coined in an Iowa State University study. It means that while the population is going down, the community is not in decline.
Residents want to keep it that way and are keeping in touch with Iowa State researchers, who did a study on this a year ago, to make sure that happens.
In recent months, researchers determined the town needed to offer medical coverage, build additional housing and find different forms of entertainment, but to be able to do all of that, they need to raise about $1.5 Million.
Since then Elma has put on several fundraisers, including Friday night’s all you can eat taco bar, as part of an early Cinco de Mayo celebration.
“I’ve been in town for 36 years and you know over the past 10-15 years, I think we’ve got a lot of involvement, volunteerism, we can’t do it alone. Our community doesn’t have the money that we can just do it all through the city. So we need to rely on volunteerism and that’s been great,” Bruce Weigel, Elma Fundraiser Project Committee member.
To meet their needs, the project includes constructing a new building which will house the City Clerk’s Office, a daycare, the library and the new Howard County health services medical clinic. It’ll be called the Elma Community Complex.
Mayor Jerry Steven has seen a lot of change in his 29 years leading Elma.
“When they say shrink, I mean they really mean it, the town has shrunk. I feel the last ten years, we have really been going towards a younger generation coming up and they’ve really helped a lot in everything we’ve done, as far as any projects going on,” said Steven.
They’ve collected more than $400,000 in donations in about a month’s time for the complex and organizers hope to get about $900,000 in grants for the project.