Urbanization of the Minnesota Countryside: Population Change and Low-Density Development Near Minnesota's Regional Centers, 1970-2000


John Adams, Joel Koepp, Barbara VanDrasek

January 2003

Report no. CTS 03-01


Economics, Planning

Today's Minnesota settlement pattern and economy were almost completely transformed during the past three decades. "Urbanization of the countryside" is under way in functional terms, and the settlement system is catching up with the economic and social transformation that has been proceeding since World War II. Like the greater Twin Cities area, which spreads over more than 24 counties in Minnesota and Wisconsin, Minnesota's regional centers have been doing the same, whether or not their populations are increasing. Towns, villages and hamlets within highway commuting ranges of regional job centers are becoming bedroom suburbs, and incomes brought home from those jobs brings new vitality to Main Street. Meanwhile, in unincorporated townships surrounding the regional centers and around the state's lakes, new houses are going up for retirees, weekenders, and commuters - especially along major and minor highways and country roads that provide access to nearby malls. The report describes these trends playing out around 24 regional centers in rural Minnesota.

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