“I’ve been in this town 10 years, and I love this little town,” said Juanita Syljuberget, a resident of Notasulga, Alabama, who works as a contract and grant specialist at nearby Auburn University. “There’s nothing fancy about it, but it’s a quiet little place, and everyone is very nice.”
“But it’s going to dry up and go away unless we do something.”
The plight of Notasulga and its 850-some residents in rural Macon County is not unlike hundreds of other small communities across the country. Years of changing economic and development patterns limited growth opportunities, and the very nature of remote towns left local businesses and municipal services more vulnerable than their counterparts in busy urban centers.
But while the story of a “Small Town USA” grappling with tough financial decisions has been played out countless times nationwide and even in emotional books and films, there is something that sets Notasulga apart: strong local leadership.