Center for Applied Rural Innovation's Annual Rural Poll Shows Hope for Small Communities
Tenth University of Nebraska rural poll has implications for our region; it shows new people and ideas coming.
A hopeful new poll shows that rural communities are drawing new people and generating entrepreneurial activity – people starting businesses.
The poll is the 10th in a series of polls of rural Nebraskans by the University of Nebraska Center for Applied Rural Innovation. Though the poll focuses on Nebraskans, it has broader implications for the entire region. Its findings include:
- One-quarter of rural Nebraskans lived somewhere other than their current community during the past 10 years. Many of them are young.
New people and ideas are coming into rural communities – essential to revitalization. Forty percent came from out of state and forty-five percent came from a larger Nebraska city or another community.
- The entrepreneurial spirit is strong in rural Nebraska and strongest in the smallest communities. Twenty percent of rural Nebraskans, and 29 percent living in or near towns of less than 500, own a business.
This is a credit to the Center’s Rural Enterprise Assistance Program, which has helped 4,000 rural businesses to get started or survive. And it is essential. People starting small businesses are the primary source of new jobs in the small agricultural communities of Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, and the Dakotas.
- Rural Nebraskans have favorable opinions about self-employment, but they also recognize the hardships and risks. Sixty-one percent agree that self-employment is desirable because they can be their own boss, and 54 percent say it provides a better quality of life. But they are realistic – 74 percent agree that it requires working more hours.
- Rural Nebraska also agrees on the biggest barrier to starting new businesses. Seventy percent say the cost of health insurance makes self-employment unappealing.
- Rural Nebraskans are engaging in lifelong learning – essential to getting ahead in an information-based economy. One-half of rural Nebraskans have participated in formal education courses, workshops, or other training activities during the past 10 years.
- Rural Nebraskans are getting connected to the Internet, but not low-income households. Sixty-nine percent of rural Nebraskans have Internet access either at home or at work, but only 11 percent of those with incomes of less than $20,000 have Internet access.
- Internet service is getting better, but improvement is needed. Less than half (43 percent) of those surveyed from communities of less than 1,000 say they are more satisfied with the speed of their Internet service.
Source: See http://cari.unl.edu/ for the Center for Applied Rural Innovation’s (CARI) rural poll.
John Crabtree, email@example.com
Center for Rural Affairs
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