Mower County named in ‘Top 10 Nicest Places in America’ – Voting for best place held until July 7

Published 8:36 am Thursday, June 21, 2018

Reader’s Digest named Mower County on its 2018 list of “Top Ten Nicest Places in America.”

The list was revealed Wednesday morning on an episode of “Good Morning America.”

The list, which started in 2017, was created as a means to share stories of locations across America that highlight kindness.

Email newsletter signup

“We wanted to create a list of places all across the country where people are treating each other with kindness and respect,” said Reader’s Digest Senior Editor Jeremy Greenfield. “We went out to the readers and asked them to send us their stories. These are 10 places that represent what we think is the nicest, kindest behaviors across America.”

Greenfield said they received over 450 nominations from across the country. One such nomination came from T‘NG Plumbing co-owner Gina Grundmeier, who founded Pay It Forward, a nonprofit program that helps people in need with home renovations.

“(Pay It Forward) encompasses the giving and caring nature of the community to give back to our fellow neighbors that need help,” Grundmeier said. “It shows how everybody cares.”

Another nomination came from Austin Area Commission for the Arts Director Laura Helle, who cited Vision 2020’s Community Pride and Spirit Committee as her reason.

“I wanted to use that as an example because it’s pretty unusual,” Helle said. “I don’t think there are a lot of communities that state as a goal that they want to increase their community pride and spirit and want to increase random acts of kindness and being nice to each other.”

An estimated 250 people took in “The Goonies” at the Bandshell as part of Movie Under the Stars, put on by the Community Pride Committee in September of 2017. Eric Johnson/

For Reader’s Digest, the submissions were worthy to make the list.

“We got a lot of submissions from Minnesota and Wisconsin,” Greenfield said. “We had to ask what is a good place to carry the flag for Minnesota Nice? We called around and even people not in Mower County said Austin and Mower County. We looked at the stories and felt they could inspire people.”

“We wanted to make sure we were telling stories everyone in America could relate to,” he added.

Other nominees on the list are Bothell, Washington, Ellijay, Georgia, Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, Maryland, Kalamazoo, Michigan, Katy, Texas, Life Moves Yoga in Killeen, Texas, North Evergreen Street in Burbank, California, North Riverside, Illinois, and Yassin’s Falafel in Knoxville, Tennessee.

From now until July 7, people can vote for their favorite nominees on the list. Voting can be done at

Greenfield said the 10 finalists will be featured in the November 2018 issue of Reader’s Digest. The finalist that receives the most votes will also be featured in a cover story and on “Good Morning America.”

When asked why people should support Mower County, Grundmeier said, “It gives Mower County and the area recognition. We’re a small town community and I think it would help magnify the pride we already have in Mower County and Minnesota. We are the nicest place in America.”

“I would like Mower County to get recognized for the community as it is, which is unusual and special,” Helle said “When I moved to Austin in 2001, I didn’t know many people. Austin made an impression on me because the people are so caring. I joke that if you stay here long enough, you will be hugged whether you want to or not. People here care about each other and have a sense of community that I don’t think you see everywhere.”

For more information, visit