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Minnesota town offering to pay for new residents

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Harmony, Minnesota, located about 130 miles southeast of the Twin Cities, is offering to pay for new residents.

The town, which bills itself as the "biggest little town in southern Minnesota," is offering up to $12,000 to build a new home to spur new construction and community growth, according to Harmony's website.

The town learned it was losing out on young professionals to other communities because they didn't want to live in old homes that needed work, the Star Tribune reports.

So, the city council authorized the Harmony Economic Development Authority (EDA) to provide cash rebates based on the final estimated market value of a new home, the city says. Harmony is offering $5,000 to people who build a single-family home worth $125,000 and up to $12,000 for a $250,000 home, according to the town's website.

The Star Tribune notes that there at least 15 lots that are ready to be built on, and lots with vacant, dilapidated homes can also qualify for the rebate.

The Harmony EDA says the program will continue until funds are expended or until it's ended by the city. For more information and the application form, click here.

Other Minnesota cities have offered various incentives to get people building. Watertown, located in Carver County, approved a residential permit incentive program earlier this month to try and combat "sluggish new home starts" it has seen compared to nearby communities, according to the city's website. Watertown is offering 15 permits that waive city water, sewer and stormwater fees – a value of $9,500, according to Watertown's website.

Last year, Stewartville, Minnesota, began offering a rebate for new homes. The rebate offers $5,000 for a residential home worth at least $100,000, and $7,5000 for a commercial or industrial building and $7,500 for a multi-housing building of three-plus units, the Rochester Post Bulletin reports.

More than a dozen people have taken advantage of the program and the city administrator told the Star Tribune that he has seen new investment.

But some experts say incentives don't really work. Instead of attracting new residents, the programs are often used by people who are already living in the town, the Star Tribune reports.

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