rural

USDA unveils tool for rural communities fighting COVID-19

The U.S. Department of Agriculture unveiled a one-stop-shop of federal programs that can be used by rural communities impacted by COVID-19. The resource guide lists programs that can be used to provide immediate and long-term assistance in support of recovery efforts for rural residents, businesses and communities through:

New reports bolster broadband data, provide tactics for successful state broadband expansion

Two new reports, one from the National Association of Counties (NACO) and the other from the Pew Charitable Trusts, provide new data on the gaps in access to broadband and some tactics for how states can effectively develop their broadband expansion projects.

FCC moves ahead with $20 billion rural broadband funding plan

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced last week that it has approved the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund which will provide $20.4 billion over two phases to help expand broadband networks throughout rural communities. Phase one will provide $16 billion for use in communities that are currently unserved by broadband services with minimal download speeds of 25 megabits per second (Mbps) and 3 Mbps upload speeds.

Report examines what works in rural innovation

Turning good intentions into actions is part of the motivation behind a recent report from the Community Strategies Group (CSG) of the Aspen Institute. The report, Rural Development Hubs: Strengthening America’s Rural Innovation Infrastructure, focuses on actions that could build capacity to advance rural community and economic development to improve equity, health and prosperity for future generations.

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.

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