JENKINS -- Dwight Heim grew up in Jenkins and remembers it as a quiet town with a handful of businesses and residential areas.
It was a low-key town without much growth. There was a time when the city, which celebrated its centennial this year, was lucky to pay for its street lights and the maintenance man.
That was then.
The nearly 600-seat Sunset Cinemas is expected to serve the Pequot Lakes, Nisswa, Crosslake, Breezy Point, Pine River, Hackensack and Backus areas. Owners Clayton and Sandy Sundvall, a Jenkins couple, are behind the 12,000-square-foot theater project. Nor-son Construction is building the theater. The theater is expected to open in May. It is just one of several building projects in Jenkins.
Perhaps a late-bloomer, Jenkins is growing up fast. Heim grew up to be the city's mayor. Now 64, he said residents are not as nostalgic for the past as they are hopeful for the future and what this growth means.
This fall ground was broken for a Woodland Bank and a stadium-seating Sunset Cinema. Julie Ohr, city clerk for five years, said the past three years have been active with many businesses looking at Jenkins.
"I see a huge boom when the bank opens and movie theater opens," she said. "I think in five years you probably won't even recognize this city anymore."
And Ohr said she doesn't see the growth stopping.
In addition to the retail and commercial additions, the city has two housing developments in progress. One on Old Highway 371 covers 88 acres and plans for 27 houses. The other on Summer Avenue covers 66 acres and will have 21 houses. Other smaller developments have a total of eight homes.
"We've had more housing developments going in this year than we've ever had," Ohr said.
County: Crow Wing.
Major employers: Pequot Tool and Manufacturing, AmericInn, Wildwedge Family Golf Park.
Notable attractions: Scheers Lumberjack Shows, Paul Bunyan Trail and Paul Bunyan Scenic Byway.
One of the housing developments is going in near Heim's home. An industrial park is going in next spring with the help of the state's JOBZ plan. A Jenkins task force worked with the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the DNR to keep Highway 371 on its current route through the city. The industrial park, about a quarter mile south of Jenkins on the west side will be visible from the highway.
"We are going to be able to do things in the town that we were never able to," Heim said. A larger city tax base is expected to help pave streets.
Heim credited the Pequot Tool and Manufacturing, which employs about 80 people, with changing the way people looked at Jenkins. The business came to the city about 20 years ago.
"I look forward to growth in the town because I know what it does for the whole town," Heim said, pointing to the city park with activities for children. And young people growing up in the area now have an opportunity to find work without leaving Jenkins.
"So we are seeing younger people living here," Heim said. "Before there wasn't anything to keep them here."
RENEE RICHARDSON can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5852.
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