TRIMONT, Minn. -
What started with a few people and a proposal in the Trimont Post Office has become a shopping center in the town of less than 1000 residents.
Friday, Sept. 16, Congressman Tim Walz and residents celebrate the success of the project.
For residents in small towns, there's sometimes nothing simple about a trip to the grocery store.
Town Center Board of Directors Randy Grupe said, "We were called a grocery desert; we were about 20 to 25 miles from any other grocery store."
But residents in the town of Trimont made that a thing of the past.
After years of work, the town and surrounding area have a small grocery store back in the area... thanks to a private–public partnership and the help of the office of Representative Tim Walz.
Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minnesota, said, "They wanted to keep seniors here, they wanted to keep them in their homes as long as possible. They wanted to give opportunities and again these are the center of our agricultural heartland and these are places that our farm families need to go."
The Trimont Town Center opened last November, bringing together a gas station, grocery, liquor and later a hardware store. It was funded by a $2.2 million loan from the USDA and $800,000 raised by the community and in the last ten months, it's become an essential destination for many area residents.
Grupe said, "We call it the mall here in Trimont, but it's representative of all our western Martin County, eastern Jackson County and southern Watonwan County, and it's just been a tremendous addition to the area."
Representative Walz joined city official, project leaders and area residents to celebrate the effort to bring back this essential part of life.
The project has even served as a model for both urban and rural areas considered being in a food desert.
But it wasn't just about the store, as Martin County West seniors spent much of the event asking their Congressman questions about rural policy.
Martin County West senior Jayden Moeller said, "Even though we're small our voice is still heard and that what we do here with our rural community and agriculture does mean a lot and that people are representing us in the bigger, broader communities such as Minneapolis."