Amazon’s quest to find a location for its second headquarters through a competitive battle involving cities throughout the United States has raised the issue that not everything may be a plus for the winner luring the projected $5 billion investment that will create 50,000 jobs. News reports have put the spotlight on some of the minuses that have made an impact in Seattle since the original Amazon headquarters became a reality.

One of the biggest negatives is lack of affordable housing. The influx of well-paid Amazon employees there has pushed the housing market to the extreme. The Seattle Times reported in October that the median house now sells for $725,000 in Seattle. Another source noted recently that there are just five condos available in downtown Seattle for under $500,000 and those are small, one-bedroom units.

It isn’t just Seattle that has rising housing prices. Much of the West Coast, where tech jobs are predominant, has had large segments of the population pushed out of the housing market by rising prices, particularly in rental units.

Recent counts in California, Oregon and Washington show 168,000 homeless people in the three states, according to a tally by AP. Since 2015, at least 10 cities or municipal regions in the three states have declared states of emergency due to the rise in homelessness. The surge in people living on the streets has put public health at risk.

Thousands of those homeless people in Seattle are working, but can’t afford housing, according to a city official.

Amazon likely won’t locate its second headquarters in Minnesota and our state hasn’t seen the homeless problem to such an extent, but there is concern about affordable housing with Destination Medical Center (DMC), the $5.6 billion, 20-year expansion plan centered around Mayo Clinic in Rochester.

DMC is projected to eventually create more than 30,000 new jobs, but increasing housing prices are already causing concerns. Sales reports for October from the Southeastern Minnesota Association of Realtors (SEMAR) show that housing prices in Rochester have increased 12.8 percent since 2016 to a median sales price of $220,000 year to date. Looking back at four years of data, the median sales price was $165,900 in October 2013.

Housing prices have also been increasing in the small cities in our area that are tracked by SEMAR — Chatfield, Grand Meadow, Preston and Spring Valley — with increases of 6.8 to 24.4 percent in median sales prices from 2016 to 2017. However, housing still remains more affordable than Rochester as the median price ranges from $112,500 in Preston to $154,900 in Chatfield, generally being more affordable the farther the distance from Rochester.

Leaders in these small cities, particularly the ones that are farther away from Rochester, haven’t seen an influx of more people, though, something that was expected as DMC evolved.

One reason for that is there is more to the cost of living than affordable housing. Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development statistics from earlier this year show that, surprisingly, Olmsted County has the fourth highest cost of living in southeastern Minnesota behind Rice, Goodhue and Dodge counties. The yearly cost of living in Olmsted County is $50,078 for a two-parent household (one working full-time and the other part-time) with one child, which is the average family size in Minnesota. Houston County comes in fifth at $48,110 and Fillmore County sixth at $47,746.

While the cost of housing in Olmsted County is $909 per month, Fillmore County drops down to $659. However, the roles are reversed for transportation as the average cost in Olmsted County is $647 while it is $966 in Fillmore County, according to DEED data. Houston County has higher housing costs and lower transportation costs than Fillmore County, presumably because La Crosse is just across the river from the biggest city in Houston County.

Food and health care are nearly equal in Fillmore and Olmsted counties. The reason for the slightly lower cost of living in Fillmore County is less expensive child care.

DMC is already bringing in many new people and creating new jobs. That trend is certainly pushing up housing prices, creating a need for affordable housing. However, not all affordable housing is equal if the jobs are located in Rochester.

Prospective home buyers and renters looking at the total cost of living may decide it is worth the slight additional cost to live in Rochester. Others who have been priced out of the market could find very affordable options outside Rochester, but may not have enough money left over to cover transportation if their work pays minimum wage with no benefits and has less stability.

The data outlined by DEED shows that leaders in the small cities around Rochester, particularly those in the outer rings, may not capitalize on the DMC growth as much as originally expected.

A better option for small city leaders is to focus on creating local jobs rather than chasing commuters.

Many small cities have found the success of chasing outside industry to their communities is a long shot. Instead, the best chance of creating new jobs is through expansion of existing companies or startups by residents already in the community.

That’s why a new program of the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation holds promise. The Rural Entrepreneurial Venture (REV) is coming to three area communities — Lanesboro, Spring Grove and Spring Valley.

SMIF states that the program is all about “igniting” existing entrepreneurs in communities. By adopting a “grow your own” approach to entrepreneurial development, the REV model will help local communities grow from within, promised SMIF officials.

REV isn’t a brief one-time shot in the arm for local communities. It is a three-year process with an eye toward long-term results.

The program is a partnership with the national Center for Rural Entrepreneurship, which has used an Energizing Entrepreneurial (e2) Communities framework used in communities from rural Kansas to eastern Washington, which apparently never saw the benefits from Amazon’s growth in Seattle.

Holt County in Nebraska is one region that saw great results from the e2 model. The county was losing 1 percent of its population a year, but has now gained 400 new families since starting the program in 2007. That’s what happens when the county adds 400 new jobs, 82 new businesses, 39 business expansions and 26 business transitions.

It appears leaders in our area may have been wrong in looking to DMC as a savior to counter some of the trends affecting rural areas. Instead, even for locations that aren’t part of the REV program, it makes more sense for leaders to look internally to nurture what they already have.

The “grow your own” movement isn’t just about food anymore. It may be the answer to keeping the vitality in rural communities.