I received the following email this past week from the Center for Rural Affairs from Nebraska. They were one of the six recipients for a $2 million award from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation’s Entrepreneurship Grants for Rural America. What do you think of their ideas?
Given the Center for Rural Affairs experience and involvement with community development in 20-plus communities over several years, five undeniable facts have emerged.
1. Trends that show little to no hope for small rural communities are wrong. It takes great effort, but small rural communities can survive and even flourish.
2. Rural youth want to return and live in the area they grew up in. Every survey we have conducted indicates youth cares about the community and wants what is best for it and for them.
3. Young people do not want to be “retained.” They want to be given opportunities for growth and prosperity like their parents had, better known as “youth attraction.”
4. Entrepreneurial growth is the strongest mechanism for small community survival, not industrial business attraction.
5. Small rural communities don’t all suffer from the same problems. No model can fix the woes of all communities. We must recognize that only the community can address their problems. The best we can do is to provide resources for them to get the job done.