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Published February 04, 2010, 05:04 PM

Rugby Working To Slow Population Decline

A declining population is a problem many small towns face. Rugby, North Dakota is no different, but some administrators say the problem isn't as bad as some people think it is.

By: Renee Chmiel, WDAZ

A declining population is a problem many small towns face. Rugby, North Dakota is no different, but some administrators say the problem isn't as bad as some people think it is. In 2000 the population was just over 2,900. In 2008 it was just under 2,600, but the decline has slowed over that eight years.

Rugby, like many cities in North Dakota has seen many of its young people move away. Add in an aging population and Rugby is seeing it's population decline. That's why the Job Development Authority is working to keep young people in the area.

Brenda Foster/JDA Executive Director: "We're looking at putting together a youth council to get them more involved early on and then if they do leave they'll consider coming back."

One reason why they're leaving: Pierce county ranks 45th in the state for median household income. Foster says they're trying to bring in more skilled jobs that pay better.

Brenda Foster: "We're looking at increasing our manufacturing capabilities. We're pretty much an agricultural community."

Foster says it's essential for communities to have a hospital right in town in order to keep the population from declining as quickly. It's even more important for communities like Rugby with aging populations.

The census may provide some help in providing incentives for people to stay in Rugby. There have been some recent baby booms and school enrollment was up last year, so the population isn't dropping as quickly as it was several years ago.

Karla Harmel/City Auditor-Administrator: "A lot of our state funding is determined by our population, so the more population that we have the more state funding we will get."

Harmel says another reason why the population appears to be declining is that some children aren't being accounted for, since many women have babies in other counties.

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