rural communities

In places where the unemployment rate is well below the national average — states like Nebraska, Colorado and Iowa — one would think it’d be easier for communities to recruit new residents to fill open jobs.

But the housing market works against rural towns and cities where jobs often stay open because there are too few affordable homes and apartments to buy or rent, or the ones that are affordable need lots of TLC. It’s a situation that threatens to turn low unemployment from an advantage into a liability.

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More and more Coloradans are moving out of Denver and other metropolitan areas in favor of living the rural – and much different – Colorado life.

As The Denver Post reports, Gail and Dennis Hendricks recently opted to make the move from Denver to the eastern plains of Colorado. And the selection process was simple – the couple stopped at every small community along Interstate 70 until they found a spot they liked.

From Texas Standard.

Texas has been more urban than rural since the 1950s, and though the state’s wide open space has a lot to do with its mystique, rural Texas is often overlooked when it comes to resources.

In a thoughtful and thought-provoking piece for the Texas Observer, Christopher Collins writes about the seven most pressing issues facing rural Texas.

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Rural Texas has been on the decline for decades.

Now, The Texas Observer has published an essay detailing the “Seven Most Pressing Issues Facing Rural Texas.”

First, in rural areas like the Panhandle, access to medical care can be hard to find. Over the past five years, 18 rural hospitals have closed in Texas.

Another issue: small towns can’t afford the same kind of infrastructure upkeep as big cities, resulting in aging roads and poor water systems.

It’s a common story: Ambitious kids move from small towns to larger cities, never to look back. When their parents die, the family wealth that’s been built over generations through farming, ranching or agriculture-related businesses often follows the kids, draining the economic lifeblood from those rural communities.

The largest generational transfer of wealth in modern times is expected to happen in the next 10 years and rural foundations in states like Iowa and Nebraska are working hard to retain at least a bit of those hundreds of millions of dollars. 

The childhood poverty rate in Kansas has been decreasing since 2014. But a recently released report from the national KidsCount organization shows that decrease isn’t evenly distributed across the state.

Immigration And Trade Essential To Kansas Economy

Oct 30, 2017
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Immigration and trade are essential aspects of the Kansas economy.

That was the consensus at the Kansas Economic Policy Conference held last week at the University of Kansas.

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Despite uncertainty about the future of a federal program aimed at helping school districts across the U.S. pay for technology, superintendents across Kansas are moving ahead with the application process for next school year in an effort to keep classroom technology current.

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A new poll shows rural support for Donald Trump has declined significantly since the President took office in January, reports Newsweek.

The numbers now show an evenly split divide, with 47 percent of rural Americans disapproving of the President’s performance and the same number approving.

The new numbers reveal an 8 percent drop in approval since the inauguration, when only 37 percent of rural Americans disapproved of the President and 55 percent approved.

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The Colorado economy will continue to grow at a steady clip, according to state economic forecasts released last week, thanks in part to rebounding oil prices, but rural Colorado isn’t expected to benefit as much as other parts of the state.

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In a Sept. 7 blog, the Center for Rural Affairs, a rural advocacy group based in Nebraska, makes the case that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – or DACA – recipients stimulate the economies of small towns.

Before You Tear That Old Barn Down ...

Sep 13, 2017
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Barns are as much a symbol of the High Plains as the plains themselves and while many old barns are being replaced with metal sheds and outbuildings, there are ways to give barns a new shot at life.

According to the Center for Rural Affairs, financial assistance through state and federal tax credits may be available to help aid in the process of restoring an old barn.

There are several steps to be taken, however.

Sidney, Nebraska, has prospered while many rural cities have struggled. For decades, the city has been home to Cabela’s, a major outdoor retail chain.

As Cabela’s completes a deal in which it will be bought by a rival, however, the future of Sidney’s economic engine is in doubt. As in other rural cities that have faced the loss or closure of major industry, the question is how the community will move on and grow in the 21st Century.

Imagine going to the grocery store for dinner, not to pick up a rotisserie chicken to take home, but to actually eat at the store. As online grocery shopping grows, many supermarkets are adding sit-down restaurants – and the trend is changing how food retail and food service work together.

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19 million Americans still don’t have access to broadband internet, including much of the High Plains region.

In this modern age, hundreds of small towns across America are essentially cut off from progress. Over the past few years, major American telecommunications companies have shown little interest in expanding broadband into rural America, saying such expansion isn’t cost effective.

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Rural Texas residents stand to be hurt if President Trump’s proposed budget is adopted, reports the Texas Observer. The White House budget cuts billions in federal aid for residents of Texas’s most sparsely populated areas, including the Panhandle.

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Kansas and Texas are among 12 states that Microsoft aims to bring broadband Internet to within the next five years.

This story is part of the special series United And Divided, which explores the links and rifts between rural and urban America.

Schools in rural school districts often don’t have the budget or the teachers to offer students all of the courses they would like to take. One rural district in a Missouri county decided to offer credit for online classes in an effort to give its students the educational opportunities it can’t otherwise afford.

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Determined residents and local officials have helped turn the tide on a declining population in a northwest Kansas community.

As High Plains Journal reports, the U.S. Census of 2010 reflected that Quinter, Kansas had experienced a 4.5 percent population decline and that Gove County’s population declined 12.2 percent since 2000.

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Increased income limits through U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development may increase opportunities for rural families to own their own home.

As the High Plains Journal reports, the USDA announced the new 2017 income limits for its direct and guaranteed home ownership loan programs that may make more households eligible to obtain 100 percent financing.

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In recent eras, America’s big cities grappled with large numbers of young people who weren’t in school and didn’t have jobs.

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Colorado lawmakers heard testimony Tuesday about the financial difficulties facing much of rural Colorado, which helped a bill aimed at preventing cuts to rural communities in the state pass its first test.

As The Denver Post reports, officials from rural schools, hospitals and business groups testified about the dire financial situation facing much of rural Colorado – a situation that they fear will only get worse in coming years.

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The Washington Post recently paid a visit to rural Durant, Oklahoma, to investigate how Trump’s policies are sitting with rural Americans.

The town is still standing behind their choice of Donald Trump, though some cracks in their affection for the New York billionaire are becoming visible.

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A new report shows that the rate of those who receive disability benefits is far higher in the rural parts of America than in the more populous centers.

As The Washington Post reports, 133 of the 136 counties with the highest disability rates in the U.S. are rural. In those counties, more than one in six working-age adults receive disability.

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The Colorado Legislature is proposing a major overhaul to the state’s budget, in a move that would redirect money toward rural schools and roads.

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President Trump unveiled his proposed budget last week, and some parts of America, like military centers, look to be big winners. But other areas, including rural regions that supported the President during his election last year, will be hit hard if the budget is passed.

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The Kansas House approved a bill last week that would offer up to $100 million in income tax credits over five years to investors throwing resources into job-creating business developments in rural areas of the state.

As The Topeka Capital-Journal reports, provisions of the bill, which passed the House by a vote of 97-22, would be implemented starting in 2020. The amount of the tax credits issued wouldn’t exceed $20 million annually and investment companies could begin applying for eligibility after Jan. 1, 2018.

Blink while driving on Highway 34 east of Greeley, Colorado, and you might miss the former Great Plains town of Dearfield.

Abandoned towns from the early 20th century are far from unique on this stretch of plains. Withered storefronts and collapsed false-front homes are common. Boom and bust economics and harsh weather made it tough for turn of the century settlers to succeed long-term.

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There is no Trump in Kansas, but Scott County has Pence.

Not that there is evidence of political aspirations in this little town. It sits just off Cherokee Road, surrounded by treeless farmland, where it has been floundering for more than a century.

It’s unlikely that its founder, J.W. Pence, has any blood connection to Vice President Mike Pence – or that the 85 percent of Scott County voters who supported the Trump/Pence ticket did so because there was a town of Pence in their county.

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A Colorado program that helps repay the student loans of doctors who work in rural areas or underserved areas is gearing up for what could be its largest grant class ever.

As The Denver Post reports, the Colorado Health Service Corps will begin accepting applications for the new grants March first and as much as $5 million dollars could be available to repay loans for as many as 60 physicians and other providers. 

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