The Great Plains Boom

Great Plains cities are booming while the rest of the country’s economy is in trouble. We look at what’s going on in a part of the country some were willing to write off for dead.

Downtown area of Fargo, N.D. (Credit: City of Fargo)

It seems like only yesterday that the Great Plains, the magnificent center of the country, was being written off as an economic basket case. Towns boarding up. People leaving. 

The case was made to give the region back to Mother Nature. To make it a “buffalo commons” again. 

Oh, how things change. Today, while so much of the country is struggling economically, the cities of the Great Plains are booming. Don’t laugh at Fargo. It’s got jobs. Agriculture and the energy biz, low costs – and low wages.  

This Hour, On Point: the booming Great Plains, and America’s economic future.


Joel Kotkin, author of the Newsweek article “The Great Great Plains: How heartland cities like Fargo and Omaha became the nation’s new boomtowns.” His latest book is “The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050.” He’s a distinguished fellow in urban futures at Chapman University in California.

Debora Dragseth, associate professor of business at Dickinson University in North Dakota. She’s author of “Should I Stay or Should I Go?,” a study on the outmigration of North Dakota college students.

Frank Popper originated the idea of the “Buffalo Commons” — along with his wife, Deborah Popper —  in their 1987 article in “Planning Magazine,” “The Great Plains: From Dust to Dust.” He is professor of planning and public policy at Rutgers University and also teaches in the environmental studies program at Princeton University.

Rich Karlgaard, publisher of Forbes magazine.  He writes Forbes’ “Digital Rules” blog. He’s author of “Life 2.0: How People Across America Are Transforming Their Lives by Finding the Where of Their Happiness.”

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