For nearly 15 years, the city of Huron has been working to come back from an economic disaster.
From what we have seen, they have accomplished that goal. The city has a motto....."It's a brand new day"....and many here have been waiting for that day to come.
For years, Huron has worked to become a city of hope and the road has not been easy. For decades, the Dakota Pork plant provided hundreds of jobs in the area. In late 1997, the plant shut down unexpectedly and 800 people were out of work all at once.
"Our population and our financial base, our retail base fell off a cliff just overnight and we probably saw a 15-20% decline in population." Huron Mayor David McGirr remembers the hard times and the economic fall-out from that closure. But he now heads up a city where small businesses are popping and there is new life downtown.
"Most of our customers are ladies that want to get together and reunite that they haven't been together for awhile and laugh and giggle and spend time together." Rhonda Mehling took a chance and opened the "Don't Spill The Beans" coffee shop and her bet is paying off. So to is Jessie Schley, who opened the Trendz day spa. "A lot of small shops and a lot more business...easier to get to during their lunch hour...its easier to run and get a haircut."
And while entrepreneurs are stepping in and stepping up, so is the city, which a few years ago bought the campus of the old Huron University. Only two of its buildings remain. One is called "Campus Center", which is home to community rooms and a specialized police training center, complete with a live action simulator.
Still to come for the campus, something called "Splash Central"; a community water park partially financed by community donations. The city was hoping the community would chip in 3 million...they donated more than three-and-a-half million. "That made us understand that the public really stood behind this project and wanted it to happen."
And in addition to the waterpark, there will also be park greenspace around the waterpark area. All of this nearly smack dab right in the middle of town.
2012 KSFY News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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