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How One Manufacturer is Reinvigorating a Small Nebraska Town

Deshler, Nebraska, has a population of 747. It has one grocery store and one gas station, and its local high school graduates approximately 18 seniors each spring. It’s also the global headquarters of international irrigation firm Reinke Manufacturing, which employs a large number (about 600) of the town’s residents.

A great job: Working at Reinke has many perks, including generous pay and benefits, but until recently, the company had a hiring challenge to overcome in one specific area: housing.

  • “We are so rural that we were having difficulty getting people,” Reinke Manufacturing President Chris Roth said. “We could recruit them easily, but then it was like, ‘Well, where am I going to live?’”

A solution—with an added perk: Around 2012, Roth and other leaders at Reinke came up with a fix: The company would purchase a house for a new employee and rent it to him at a reasonable fee.

  • After that, the firm was on a roll. “We started to buy up lots with homes that needed to be torn down, homes that have been vacant for years … and put up something else” in which employees could live, Roth said. The move has “improved the town, too,” he added.
  • The first build was a fourplex with efficiency apartments. “There’s a bedroom in the back, a bathroom and a kitchenette. People like those; they’re really nice.”

Expanding a vision: The efficiencies are mostly for single people, however, and Reinke wanted to have options for prospective employees with families, too. So, it began thinking bigger.

Read the full story here.

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