Albert Lea is a gem of a city in the Midwest

Published 9:00 am Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Positive Approach by Paul Schmitt

Albert Lea is my wife’s and my hometown. It is the place where we first met, where our children were born and where we started our lives together over 40 years ago.

Paul Schmitt

Paul Schmitt

For work reasons, we left Albert Lea in 1979, and I really thought we’d never return. We lived in cities like Denver, Memphis, San Diego and most recently, Las Vegas. When we retired a few years ago, we began to come back to Albert Lea more often and spend more time with family and old friends. We found that although we had not lived in our hometown for many years, it still felt like home to us.

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A year ago when we began to feel our fathers could use more help from us, we began to look at returning home for a period of time or for part of each year.

We have now bought our dream summer home with great access to all that Albert Lea has to offer in easy walking distance. We are also becoming more active in the community, participating in political, community and religious activities.

Just a few days ago, we headed back West to be with our children and grandchildren in our winter residence in Las Vegas. Of course it is great to see family and friends here and to get back into our Las Vegas church as well as return to other activities, but as much as we enjoy Nevada, it will never be the same as our hometown.

One of the activities I am most proud of in Albert Lea is my involvement with the Experience Albert Lea group, specifically focused on getting active retirees to consider coming back to Albert Lea either as a full-time residents or as snow birders. Retirees have a much higher discretionary income than their younger counterparts and can inject substantially more dollars into the local economy. Housing prices in Albert Lea are amazingly affordable. Services like snow removal and professional landscaping are now available allowing retirees time for fishing, golf, camping, motorcycling (my personal favorite), walking, bike riding and other great activities all readily available in our hometown.

We have been so pleased to be back in Albert Lea and to see how much our local political, business and civic leaders have done to improve the town. The vision for the future seems to be even more exciting, and I fully expect our real estate investment to increase steadily because of the measures taken by the city to improve infrastructure and expand services. These improvements will have a positive impact on all of us as they are completed.

I enjoy telling my friends here in the desert southwest about what a great summer we had, walking around the lake everyday, walking into town to attend plays at the Marion Ross theater, eating at 112 On Broadway or having a burger at the Elbow Room. Most people in the desert southwest were hunkered down for the 110-plus degree days and marvel at what you can do in Albert Lea in the middle of the summer all without pulling your car out of the garage.

We are happy to be a part of the community again. We would encourage others to look at the positives of Albert Lea to see what a real gem in the Midwest we all have in our hometown.


Paul Schmitt is a retired human resources executive who worked in the retail and service industries. He and his wife, Barbara, are active in Hope Church in Albert Lea and Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas. They both are also very active in the Christian Motorcyclists Association in both Minnesota and Nevada. They have two grown sons who also reside in Las Vegas with their families.