Balaton positive attitude is paying dividends

On the surface, Balaton appears to be your typical small town in southwest Minnesota. The population is listed at just 700 people and the community no longer has an operating high school.

But we are finding out there is a lot going on in Balaton. The community may have experienced a stroke of luck when Ralco decided to expand its Balaton tru Shrimp facility, which was once the high school campus. However, residents are not relying on good luck alone. Residents here are showing what a good attitude about their community can do to spark economic development.

“I love Balaton,” Balaton Economic Development Authority Director Tara Onken told the Independent. “Everybody just chips in and isn’t afraid to get their hands dirty and everybody works together as a community.”

That attitude has paid off. According to Onken, 11 new homes have been built in its Eastbay addition within the past decade. She also said four lots have closed in the past year, with two of them already have new homes on them. She claims that it adds up to an almost $1 million increase to the tax base.

Onken said another four lots have been sold at Grandview Beach Acres, just off Highway 14.

And the amenities that every growing community seeks has followed:

• A multi-generational park was built at Eastbay, a child care center was started at Victory Christian Church

• A par 3 golf course was added.

• The community will be receiving a $413,009 grant for enhanced broadband service

• The city is partnering with Minnesota Energy Resources on a multimillion dollar project

• The Balaton Area Community Foundation is working on constructing a walking path bridge so that people don’t have to cross Highway 14 to get out to the Eastbay addition.

It all adds up to improving the quality of life for residents. It also will help lure more residents to the community.