Not long ago, Lanesboro, like many small towns, was facing an aging population, lack of jobs and a vacant downtown. With assets of agriculture and natural beauty in tow, the town’s creative community was determined to start a renaissance.
Fast forward to 2014: Lanesboro Arts, developed through an extensive and inclusive community-wide planning process, has played a major role in revitalizing this small town (pop. 754) on the Root River in southeast Minnesota. The Lanesboro Arts Campus has transformed underused green spaces into artful gathering places, preserved historic buildings to house the arts and attracted strollers to both its main street and nature trails.
The project has become a national model for arts-focused rural development. City government, small business owners and residents now share an understanding that the arts not only make Lanesboro more livable but they also are an important economic driver.