New report shows that local initiative combined with supportive public policies can help small rural communities to attract new population
by Chuck Hassebrook, Center for Rural Affairs, email@example.com
A significant number of Nebraska’s small rural communities are growing, according to an analysis by Dr. Randy Cantrell, with the University of Nebraska Rural Initiative. The findings demonstrate there can be a future for rural communities across America. The key is local initiative and supportive public policies.
The report analyzed population change in Nebraska from 1990 to 2000. Its findings include:
Population grew in exactly half the communities with fewer than 1,000 people and a little over half of communities with fewer than 2,500 people. Seventy-seven of Nebraska’s 93 counties had a community that gained population.
On average, towns with fewer than 2,500 people achieved a 25 percent increase in people aged 30 to 39.
Sixty-three of Nebraska’s 93 counties saw an increase in wage and salary jobs.
The population with college degrees grew in 178 non-metropolitan communities.
These findings do not demonstrate that all is well in rural America. But they do demonstrate that very rural communities can draw families and grow. They show that small entrepreneurs are creating jobs and lives in very rural places.
Most important, they demonstrate hope. Strong local initiative and leadership together with policies that invest in the future can succeed in revitalizing rural communities.
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