By John Crabtree, email@example.com
“Rural economic development isn’t like in the big cities; we’re never going to get some Fortune 500 company to build a plant in our town. That’s OK, but we need to get behind the little guys with the family owned businesses. They want to live here and they work hard to figure out how to make it work.”
So I was told by a farmer at the Center for Rural Affairs’ Annual Gathering in Kearney, Nebraska. And he’s right.
Congress must invest in rural America and focus the 2007 Farm Bill Rural Development Title on entrepreneurial development; rural asset-building; agricultural entrepreneurship; and beginning farmers and ranchers.
Economic development based on industrial recruitment simply does not work in rural communities. But rural entrepreneurship does work. In the rural Great Plains, nearly 70 percent of job growth in the 1990s came from small businesses and microenterprises.
Chronic economic decline and depopulation in rural places is not some natural phenomenon, guided by an invisible hand of economic fate. There is another path.
Giving rural communities the tools to create their own opportunities is the best way, perhaps the only way, to address deep-rooted poverty in many rural places and the growing economic disparity between cities and rural communities.
Robert Frost said, “Two paths diverged in a wood, and I, I took the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” Two paths are diverging in rural America, I suggest we heed Robert Frost and take the road less traveled.
post a question or comment here or contact John Crabtree, firstname.lastname@example.org
Center for Rural Affairs
Values. Worth. Action.