If you’re looking to shatter any preconceived notions you might have about rural Minnesota, take a trip to Elgin and spend some time with Dr. Julee Kingsley and Dr. Colleen Urbain.
Kingsley, a dentist, and Urbain, a chiropractor, are young married moms. They are also business owners who chose to locate their practices in a small town instead of a big city. To both of them, rural Minnesota wasn’t an obstacle, it was an opportunity.
“It’s been a good move for me all around,” Urbain said. “There are a lot of advantages to running your business in a small town.”
Urbain’s and Kingsley’s offices are next to each other in the Elgin Professional Building. The City of Elgin (population 1,100) recently used a loan from USDA Rural Development to purchase the building and renovate it to accommodate Kingsley’s dentist office and keep Urbain in the facility.
Urbain employs two people and Kingsley employs three. Both offices also have room to expand if needed.
Kingsley started her practice in August of 2010 after graduating from the University of Minnesota’s dental school and practicing as an associate in Rochester for a couple of years. She grew up in Elgin and never had any doubts about returning to her small-town roots.
“There’s such a need,” she said. “I’m not worried about the business end of things. I knew this is what I wanted to do and where I wanted to be. I see my old high school teachers and people I used to baby sit for coming in,” Kingsley said. “It’s so much fun. Sometimes I even see the ‘babies’ I used to baby sit for coming in with their own kids.”
Take a walk with Urbain through her 1,500 square foot office – past the adjustment chairs, massage table and model of the human spine — and you notice something else about this rural entrepreneur: Pride.
She’s proud that people talk about her practice and that a lot of her business comes from word of mouth.
“I draw from other small towns in the entire region,” she said. “When you operate in a small town, word spreads quickly.”