rural

Planning underway to increase energy technology development in rural areas

The U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have announced an agreement between them to promote rural energy and the development of technologies “that will support and advance rural and agricultural communities and domestic manufacturing.” The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which was required under the 2018 Farm Bill, is expected to increase the economic development of rural areas through new energy technologies and investments.

Automation could increase economic divide between urban areas & rural communities

The continuing trend toward automation could widen the disparities between high-growth urban areas and rural counties at a time when workforce mobility is at historic lows, and the current economic health of urban, suburban and rural economies will impact their ability to adapt, according to a new report from the McKinsey Global Institute: The Future

Rural hospital closures impacting counties’ employment, wage growth

A recent story from the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City examines how hospital closures in rural areas have economic impacts that reverberate throughout the community. The report’s author, Kelly Edmiston, found that rural counties with hospital closures saw meaningfully lower annual growth in employment and aggregate wages three years after the closure than counties without hospital closures. Closings were found to have a larger effect on smaller counties, where the hospital has a higher share of employment and wages relative to the total county employment and wages.

Student loan debt, urban wage premiums drive rural brain drain

When it comes to paying off student loan debt, rural individuals who move to metro areas fare better than those who stay, according to new research from PJ Tabit and Josh Winters of the Federal Reserve Board’s Division of Consumer and Community Affairs. Using panel data from Equifax and the New York Fed, the authors explore the relationship between the student loan balances of rural millennials and where they choose to live when they begin repayment. Their analysis offers a deeper understanding of the rural brain drain phenomenon and approaches to addressing the challenge.

New Farm Bill programs aim to cultivate rural innovation

The latest Farm Bill, expected to be signed into law Thursday, contains provisions that could provide significant new tools for rural innovations. The two greatest opportunities are the Rural Innovation Stronger Economy (RISE) grant program, which creates an innovation cluster and strategy program for rural regions, and a change to allow the existing Community Facilities program to support incubators, makerspaces, and job training centers.

Rural Innovation Initiative working to bridge opportunity gap

Rural communities across the country have the opportunity to build capacity to create innovation-based jobs with a new initiative spearheaded by the Center on Rural Innovation. Communities that are already working on building new entrepreneurship capacity will receive on-site technical assistance as they execute an innovation hub strategy. Those communities will need to secure live-work space for the hub, raise up to $500,000 in operating funding and apply for matching funds at the end of Q1 2019.

Educational attainment helps drive community prosperity

Despite an uneven economic recovery, fewer Americans are living in distressed communities and more are living in prosperous ones, according to a recent report from the Economic Innovation Group (EIG), a Washington, D.C.-based policy and advocacy organization. Comprised of seven factors measuring socioeconomic health, the Distressed Community Index (DCI) divides the country’s zip codes (communities) into five quintiles — prosperous, comfortable, mid-tier, at-risk, and distressed — and tells the story of the country’s economic health across two time periods, the recession years of 2007 to 2011 and the recovery years of 2012 to 2016. EIG finds that the employment and business establishment growth during the economic recovery has been mostly limited to prosperous communities, where the population tends to be more educated and the housing vacancy rate may be lower.

Pilot program matches researchers with economic and community development issues

Vibrant Virginia (VV), a new program from Virginia Tech’s Office of Economic Development, is offering seed grants as a way to encourage faculty and graduate students to explore persistent public policy challenges spanning the state’s urban, suburban, and rural communities.

While rural entrepreneurship declines, rural businesses nearly match urban peers’ innovativeness

Two recent reports provide good news and bad news regarding innovation in America’s rural areas. Only one in six individuals living in rural areas was self-employed in 2016 — down from one in four in 1988, according to a new issue brief from the Small Business Administration (SBA). This represents a decline of nearly 20 percent over that span of time.

USDA reorganization of Rural Development concerns supporters

While U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has announced that the Rural Development agency would be elevated under a reorganization plan because it would be placed under the direct oversight of the Secretary, not everyone is viewing the consolidation as an elevation.

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