MARQUETTE — Six years ago, Marquette offered free land to any homeowner willing to relocate to the central Kansas town.
It worked well enough that the town is making the same offer, only this time to small businesses.
Thirty homes were built and the McPherson County town's population grew in the six years since it offered building sites for newcomers.
Now, the descendants of a family who helped found the town have donated a 20-acre plot of land that Marquette is offering to small businesses to expand and create jobs.
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"We'd love to bring in a huge plant," said Steve Piper, Marquette Development Co. president and former mayor. "But we have to be realistic in trying to attract some small industries that have potential for growing, like a business or manufacturing project that started in someone's garage and needs a little boost... something that will work for our situation."
"It's a positive thing and we're pretty fortunate; at least we have the potential," said Kris Hudson, Economic Market Development chairwoman.
Hudson leads the housing effort, which had 30 homes built in its first phase. With the effort now in its second phase, the town has 10 more houses built and 40 lots available.
That success brought new people with fresh ideas to town, said Mayor Allan Lindfors.
Recent major improvements include a second access bridge south of town and a renovated swimming pool. The town also features three art galleries, the Kansas Motorcycle Museum and an old-time drugstore, Lindfors said.
"The welcome sign is out," he said. "Marquette is on the move."