Meet Jordan Almen, a Millennial Who Has Chosen to Grow Her Career in Swift County

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Jordan Almen, reporter at The Kerkhoven Banner, chose to move back to Kerkhoven after spending four years away at school and then two years in the cities, working at a bank.  She spent enough time elsewhere to know that living here was what she wanted. She chose to be here because this she loves living in Kerkhoven, even though she had a good job elsewhere. Like many Millennials, Jordan is living life on her terms and choosing to live in a small community is part of that.

“Through those six years away, I came to realize that I really missed things like running into people I knew at the gas station or walking down the street, being surrounded by neighbors who cared about me and being a part of an intergenerational community.”

This does not mean that Jordan feels that she fits the stereotype of someone living in a rural community. To the contrary, she said, “I hold many beliefs that are different from the stereotypical rural values. Still, I knew that not only could I help my hometown to see a different point of view, I could also begin to have a better understanding how others’ beliefs have been formed by moving home.”

Ultimately, her decision to move home came down to a way of life that can only be found in smaller communities. “I love living in a community where people care about each other. The community spirit is strong and though change may sometimes be a bit slow, there is a drive to do what is best for the community and its people. This is a place where neighbors drop in, volunteerism is prioritized, and a smile or wave is not undervalued.”

Living in Kerkhoven has benefited her career as well

We wanted to know if her career prospects have been hindered by working in a rural community. Not so, says Jordan. “I have definitely been able to move up faster in my career by working in Kerkhoven, but while I’ve moved up, I’ve also moved side-to-side. I work for my parents at the family newspaper, the Kerkhoven Banner, so I have had the opportunity, and challenge, to do what needs to be done. While I am primarily a reporter, in a small paper like ours there can’t be strict, limited roles. Instead, everyone has to be willing to step into different positions depending on the needs of the upcoming issues. Some days I sit in the office and write copy, others I’m selling advertising, sometimes I follow the trail of water left by a firetruck to get a photo and everyday I’m ready for the possibility that I may have to learn a new skill.”

Eventually, she wants to take over the family newspaper business. For now, she is focused on enhancing her skills and growing their reader base. “I believe that community newspapers like the Banner play an important role in communities by informing readers, highlighting when students and other citizens are active members, providing a directory of local services and opportunities and helping readers to find ways to be active in their community around issues that they care about. I would love to have a more active readership of the paper. It means a lot to me and to this business to have readers who will write in for letters to the editor, for guest columns and to answer our calls for story ideas.”

Living in Swift County provides many opportunities

Career opportunities are important but so is the chance to build a life. We wanted to know if Jordan thought she could create her “perfect” life in Swift County. “I absolutely think I can have my perfect life in Swift County. A major aspect of my “perfect life” is being in a strong community where people care and look out for their neighbors and friends. My perfect life also includes being able to enjoy things like sitting peacefully outside, having enough flexibility at work to be able to make it to local events and being able to work ahead in order to take vacations. I also enjoy little things like very limited traffic, being able to buy local beef and produce and being able to see the stars.”

There are also opportunities to volunteer and make a difference in rural communities. Jordan is attempting to help the community stay viable in the future with knowledge she has gained at a Minnesota Newspaper Association and Blandin Foundation program.

Millennials, like Jordan, should consider moving to a rural community

By and large, Millennials are not interested in doing things the same way that their parents or grandparents have. Raised on technology, they know that things can change rapidly and that it is okay to question everything. This has created an interesting situation where many Millennials are questioning the benefits of living in a larger city. Some, like Jordan, are choosing to move away from the city and enjoy the benefits of rural living. With border to border broadband in Swift County, it is easier than ever to make that choice. We asked her why other Millennials should consider living and working in Swift County. “Rural communities are much more affordable – I was able to buy my own home at 24. Also, I know many Millennials write off rural people as being conservative, old fashioned or close minded, but in reality values and beliefs are just as varied in rural regions as in metros. Finally, there are so many opportunities in rural communities – for occupations, friendships, recreation and new experiences. It is just a matter of being open to them and being willing to try new things or make something happen yourself.”


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