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Thread: Rural ecomonic development

  1. #1
    Cyburbian GeogPlanner's avatar
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    Rural ecomonic development

    any rural economic developers out there?

    it's my experience that in an urban area, our eyes may not always be on our rural economic development opportunities because they are not "sexy." but for those that are doing real economic development in rural areas that focus on agricultre/agribusiness, rural main streets, and etc...what's "sexy" out there these days? any good written or online resources?
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  2. #2
    Cyburbian SGB's avatar
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    My "sexy" rural development list, based on recent and current projects:

    Agribusiness: Any type of added value production of locally produced goods, such as dairy products and meats. Also working w/ a potential developer of a multi-business equestrian services facility.

    Water/sewer infrastructure expansion to services existing LMI (Low or Moderate Income) populations, and existing or potential businesses.

    Rural main streets are always hot topics. Even if your "downtown: is all of 3 blocks long, it's still vital in many ways as a community center.

    Home based businesses. With telecomm facilities/services (high speed internet, wireless, etc) growing by leaps and bounds, low impact hbb's are fun to encourage.

    Youth flight: Developing strategies to attract/retain the 21-34 age population.
    All these years the people said he’s actin’ like a kid.
    He did not know he could not fly, so he did.
    - - Guy Clark, "The Cape"

  3. #3
    Cyburbian biscuit's avatar
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    I worked in rural economic development for a few months and yes it was not "sexy" but it really was rewarding when you were able to help a community or individual. Unfortunately the organization I worked for was going in what I considered to be a wrong direction so I was told that it was best that I seek employment elsewhere (best thing that could have happened )
    Anyway, one good source for rural development information is the US Department of Agriculture.
    http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    SGB hit a couple big ones.

    - On value-added agriculture, add the potential of biopharming.
    - Downtown revitalization is always a big issue. Downtown is the heart of the community and its character reflects the sondition of the community overall.
    - Rural housing, particularly for seasonal workers, is an evolving issue.
    - Old people. What do you do with them? They have greater needs that are difficult to deliver in a rural setting.
    - People retention gets beyond the question of just retaining the 21-34 segment, but to the issue of what happens when it is time to turn things over to the next generation.
    - Rural services, inclusive of traditional businesses. (i.e., an hour to the nearest grocery store, two hours to the dentist, etc.)
    - Tourism is a strategy for some.

    This list could go on a long time. The reality is that you have a variety of situations, from relatively well-off farming communities to tourist economies, to remote and rapidly declining areas. These lead to some of the most interesting problems in economic development, and some of the most radical solutions. One I find fascinating is the concept of planned decline - deliberate planning for the depopulation and reversion of territory to a more natural state. Ironically, this can be a source of future economic prosperity.

    I have several sources at home that I can try to dig up. The best places to start are the USDA Rural Development site, Western Rural Development Center, various extension services, and state rural development parnerships (which should be linked from the USDA).
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  5. #5
    Cyburbian SGB's avatar
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    Originally posted by Cardinal
    One I find fascinating is the concept of planned decline - deliberate planning for the depopulation and reversion of territory to a more natural state. Ironically, this can be a source of future economic prosperity.
    With our county's population decline projected to continue over the next three decades and beyond, I need to carefully consider whether this is a topic I want to raise in our current comprehensive planning effort.

    All these years the people said he’s actin’ like a kid.
    He did not know he could not fly, so he did.
    - - Guy Clark, "The Cape"

  6. #6

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    I might wear running shoes to that meeting where I talked about "planned decline."

    Re flight to the cities. As you all know, the constant litany is that we want to have jobs for our kids. Well, some years ago, a friend who is a sociologist at Utah State got funded to go ask the kids in some small southern UT towns for whom the jobs are allegedly needed what they wanted. In a nutshell, what they wanted was "OUT." Having grown up in a small place myself, I echo that comment. I didn't want to go to the city. Still don't. But some parts of rural America just are not very interesting, and that is a fact.

    Beyond these comments, the other lists are good (I consider biopharming to be a terrorist attack on farming communities rather than an ED strategy, however). Another issue is often the retention of rural schools.

    One source that hasn't been mentioned: go to a university library and browse back issues of Rural Sociology. There has been some good research over the years. Also our book: The Planning for Results Guidebook, which may be ordered from the National Association of Counties has some interesting material (and a list of other resources) on this topic.

    Another angle you may enjoy following up on is the "buffalo commons." Don't mention this term too loudly in the middle of Nebraska unless you are well-armed, but the debate over Deb and Frank Popper's idea is illustrative of the myth v reality aspects of rural ED.

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  8. #8
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    Thanks Lee: some one else remembers the Buffalo Commons concept. I keep an article about it on my desk to remind nay-sayers of alternative scenarios. For those who haven't heard it, the proposal is to remove the small, dying towns and restore the Great Plains to a huge buffalo range.

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