Blog for Rural America

The Center for Rural Affairs, a private, non-profit organization, is working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities. Permission to reprint items from this web log is hereby granted, on the condition that clear credit is given to the original source of the material. If the blog provides information for a story, please let us know by sending an email to

Monday, December 12, 2005

Listen to Rural Youth

- from the desk of Chuck Hassebrook, Center for Rural Affairs,

We often assume that creating jobs is the key to community vitality – and that people will follow the jobs. But there is more to it. Jobs and opportunity can also follow people.

I recently listened to a panel of young people talk about the things that have drawn them, or would draw them back to rural communities. They weren’t looking for a city in the country with shopping malls, corporate jobs, and trendy entertainment.

They dream of running their own businesses. Young panel members said they would accept considerably less income to be self-employed rather than work for someone else.

They want a welcoming atmosphere for newcomers – including diverse newcomers who look and think differently. And they want other young people to interact with.

What will bring young people back to our communities? First – ask them what they think, and listen to what they say. And give them the influence to help create the kind of communities in which they want to live and raise families.

Communities that provide opportunities for young people to participate in decision-making will not only be more successful in attracting and keeping young people – they will have more effective leadership.

We need to create a support structure for new businesses in our communities – including opportunities to get loans, training, and technical assistance. This can include beginning farmers. For example, a community that works with a group of young farmers to capture the growing opportunities in high value markets might establish a cluster of young farmers that work together, support each other, and draw peers.

post a question or comment here or contact John Crabtree,


  • At 9:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I don't really have anything to add to your post, except that I really enjoyed it.
    Rural communities are finally starting to realize that the key to having any sort of future is with young families and young business owners.
    The communitiy that I live in is totally afraid of anyone new coming in and anyone with "new and fresh ideas" which is exactly why the small town is dying.
    If a rural community wants to attract new and young people, they need to be more open minded and provide those opportunities, otherwise it will become a community like the one I live in which is so sad because it could have so much to offer young business people and families.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home