Economic Development

Rural and Ready

December 5, 2019  • Institute Staff

Rural America has the nation’s attention. The media, voters, public officials, investors, and neighbors are all thinking more about the country’s overlooked and flown-over regions. People realize that tackling national challenges—from climate change and inequality to technological automation and political divides—requires a better understanding of contributions to national well-being, and valuing them. With the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s support, the Institute’s Community Strategies Group published a new report, Rural Development Hubs: Essential Innovation Infrastructure, combining research from more than 40 interviews and the group’s nearly 35 years of experience in the field. The takeaway: rural development hubs are essential infrastructure for durable rural economies and inclusive, healthy communities. Hubs in rural America are doing economic development differently, emphasizing wealth creation, local ownership, and lasting livelihoods while prioritizing marginalized people. Given the sheer number of small towns, counties, and civic-sector organizations in rural America, it is impractical for regional funders and policymakers to engage with every entity out there. But hubs can help. They are a strategic entry point for rural communities and key to building a better future for all of America.