It isn’t sustainable for Baldwin to continue with the tax base it currently has.
Eventually, the expanse of inefficient roads will need to be repaired or replaced at nearly the same time, and the resident base, built largely of people who escaped to Baldwin to pay less taxes, among other things, is not going to take kindly to huge increases to support the road system.
As the exurb envisions how it can build a sustainable financial future, it’s considering additions of commercial business that would make Baldwin less rural. But Baldwin’s rural identity is what drew in many of its residents.
Rural areas usually gain their tax base through agribusiness. Suburban communities gain their tax base through commercial development. Baldwin and the other Minnesota exurbs are a hybrid between suburbs and rural areas. So this leaves the question: how will Baldwin build its tax base to meet the needs of its infrastructure spending without fundamentally changing its rural identity?
Right now Baldwin has a choice. Does it become more suburban, seeking to add commercial businesses to increase the tax base to maintain the current level of development? Does it try to reverse its past momentum and encourage more agribusiness? Or should it compromise with a mix of both?
A huge factor in this equation is the type of businesses interested in a place like Baldwin. Whereas inner ring and even outer ring suburbs have the population to attract large retailers and office spaces, it’s more difficult for an exurb, even a large one like Baldwin, to attract commercial development.
At the same time, with all its residential housing and sandy soil, the township isn’t exactly suited for farming, either.
It’s a commuter town, which makes it particularly suitable for some kind of tourism. So maybe what Baldwin should be asking itself is, what could draw people here?
And when the tourists get here, what businesses should be available to help Baldwin capitalize on their tourism dollars?