Saline Tries to Boost Numbers

9 years 9 months 1 day ago May 26, 2007 May 26, 2007 Saturday, May 26 2007 Saturday, May 26, 2007 6:11:33 PM CDT in News

Saline County's population dropped 0.5 percent. Marshall mayor Connie Latimer worries about the populations of her town and her county.

After the county reached 25,000 in 1975, the numbers started dropping, and haven't reached 25,000 since. From 2005 to 2006, the county had a net domestic migration loss of 114 people.

"You have to grow. You have to grow. Now, you don't have a choice, you either grow or you just die on the vine," Latimer said.

She says some young people leave Marshall and Saline County for bigger and better paying jobs. Roy Hunter works on developing the area every day, by trying to attract businesses and trying to persuade local students that their home turf has something to offer.

"We're trying to reach into the high school, the middle school and into the college system to start teaching people how entreprenural works, and with that we're hoping we will foster an attitude that they can stay in rural Missouri, start their own business and be successful," Hunter of the Marshall-Saline Development Corporation said.

Saline is a part of a seven-county organization that might soon get federal assistance to help entreprenuers. If the counties get the grant, the area would get a facility to house new businesses and provide entrepreneurs with low interest loans. Right now, area officials are working on building a new cancer center, expanding the airport's runway, and building a museum and civic center.

"It's probably more important now than it's ever been before. It's much more important to us to maintain some sort of growth, it's absolutely necessary if you're going to be here ten years down the road," Latimer said.

Saline and the six other counties turned in the grant application Friday, and officials hope to find out if they received the money within a couple of months.

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