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Small Town Rules: How Big Brands and Small Businesses Can Prosper in a Connected Economy by Becky McCray, Barry J. Moltz

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Powerhouse Small Town Brands

Winnebago Industries

Forest City, Iowa: Population 4,100

When consumers think about recreational vehicles (RVs), one brand name pops to the top: Winnebago. It began as a typical 1950s small town economic development story that took an unusual turn.

In 1958, Forest City, Iowa, was dealing with an economic downturn. Several local businessmen convinced a California company to open a travel-trailer factory in Forest City to boost its economy. The manufacturing got off to a rough start, but the local community turned the story around. Five locals bought the operation from the California group. One of the men who helped recruit the business, John K. Hanson, stepped in as president.

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