STREETER, N.D. -- Residents of this small North Dakota town are hoping a new brochure might entice more business to come here.
With 120 city residents, Streeter has more than a dozen successful businesses, including a greenhouse, cafe, restaurant, service station, paint and carpet shop, motel, grocery store, grain elevator and trucking firm.
But the town has room for more.
The local economic development commission recently printed the four-color brochure with photos of the town. It will be distributed by the North Dakota Highway Department beginning in January in hopes of attracting new businesses and new residents.
Jim Iszler, who grew up on a farm outside town, divides each year between his native Streeter and Miami. He started the economic development commission with the goal of attracting light industry, service enterprises and people to town.
"It's very informal," he said, made up of whoever is free and willing to volunteer a little time. He said everyone he's invited to meet has been positive about the endeavor.
The commission also plans to send the brochure to businesses interested in relocating. Iszler said commission members aren't thinking in terms of large industry and don't expect overnight growth, but considering the success of a vegetable processing plant in Dawson, he is optimistic that good things can happen when people work together.
Local industries include an established gravel business and recently built meat processing and cement plants. A resort community has begun development on nearby Salt Lake.
Mayor Jeff Williams, who manages the local elevator, credits Streeter's health with the commitment of its people, including those in the surrounding area, to support local businesses.
"To keep a small town going you need customer commitment," he said.
Williams said people come from all the surrounding towns to dine and do business in Streeter. He said it's because of its loyal customers that Streeter Elevator has never lost money in the 31 years he's worked there.
Another requirement for a healthy community, Williams said, is a positive attitude on the part residents who represent the town.
"If you can't stand up for a community, you shouldn't be on any boards," he said.
Williams was born and raised in Streeter and has watched young people leave, but unlike in many smaller North Dakota towns, he's seen some of them return.
New families have also moved to town. He believes they come to Streeter to live in a safe, clean neighborhood where costs are lower than larger North Dakota cities. He can't remember a time when there was a major crime in town.
Councilwoman Audrey Ruff agreed.
"Everybody watches out for the elderly and the kids," she said. "Everybody knows everybody else."
Ruff, who manages the local motel, said she's heard many comments from visitors on what a nice, clean town Streeter is and how much they like the motel and the campground.
"We're a nice, contained little city," she said. "We can accommodate everybody's needs."
Ruff said there is room in town for entrepreneurs who would like to open shops. Streeter has room for a bakery, drug store or hardware store.
Iszler began returning to Streeter to visit his family 17 years ago and ended up buying a house in town to spend the summers. Then he heard the city was going to demolish several old, vacant houses.
"I said, 'That's not going to help Streeter -- to have a lot of vacant lots,'" Iszler said.
He purchased some of the vacant houses himself and talked friends in places as far away as India into buying others.
"At least they're paying taxes," he said, and back taxes.
Since then, Iszler has spent his summer "vacations" remodeling the houses. He's rented one to a son of an area farmer who returned to Streeter and another to a couple who moved to town to work.
Williams said there can be a downside in attracting people to move to North Dakota. Not everyone who has relocated in Streeter has come for reasons he finds admirable.
"There are two reasons people are moving here: for jobs or because our social welfare programs are better than in other states," he said.
However, Williams said only those who moved to Streeter for work have stayed, and there are jobs for more people who would appreciate living in a small but vital community. Both the cement and meat processing plants are looking for workers.
Anyone interested in learning more about opportunities in Streeter can call Williams at 701-424-3341.
Sun reporter Jackie Hyra can be reached at (701) 952-8455 or by e-mail at email@example.com