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It’s time to unlock Rural America’s assets

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Rural America is a diverse and dynamic place with innovative entrepreneurs, witty leaders and connected communities. Still, 60 million rural Americans and many of the towns they live in have not yet recovered from the financial suffering of the Great Depression, but continue to face the threat of an urgent presence due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I will. To enable small towns to recover, funders and policy makers hope to expand success across similar regions, helping to build a new paradigm for geographically comprehensive growth. Aiming for this, innovative solutions need to be actively piloted.

Unfortunately, there are significant barriers to the revival of the region. This is caused by a common misconception about rural America. All small towns are white, cannot be a hub for technological innovation, and are not places where limited recovery resources are possible. It is used efficiently.

These misleading stories obscure the incredible wealth of the American countryside. Only when we begin to recognize these assets can we, based on their success, create a true rural renaissance that guarantees the geographical and economic fairness of our country. .. Our organization is a foundation working on a fairer future job, and a national non-profit organization dedicated to bridging the gap in local opportunities is working daily to do this. But to fully unleash the promises of the American countryside, we need to challenge these limited misconceptions and bring together a large group of like-minded leaders who are equally committed to this task.

The myth of local whiteness contradicts the fact of local diversity. Every state has a rural location and people of all ages and backgrounds. Twenty percent of Americans in the countryside are of color, and the number continues to grow. In fact, the American Communities Project has 306 African-American Southern County with a median black population of 36%, 153 Rural Hispanic Center County with a median Hispanic population of 53%, and a median native population. Identified 43 rural Native Americanland counties with. 59 percent.

Racial justice is, of course, at the heart of national discourse, but recognizing this diversity is important to ensure that sufficient resources are available in rural areas. Rural African-Americans had the highest poverty rates of all races and geographic groups in 2017. Police shootings are high in rural areas and there is a deep racial disparity in imprisonment rates. Still, the murder of George Floyd has led to the emergence of rural areas for racial justice. It was often led by colored activists who, for the first time, encouraged widespread local involvement. These examples show that comprehensive efforts in rural areas play an important role in promoting racial equality for all people everywhere.

Then there is the myth that future technology jobs can’t happen in a small town. It is true that technology opportunities have been layered. Since 2007, 98% of new computer and math professions have been created in metropolitan areas, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And in 2017, only five metros, San Francisco, New York, Boston, San Jose, and LA, accounted for nearly 80% of national venture capital investment. However, this spatial division is inevitable, and as evidenced by the COVID-led remote work boom, cutting-edge work and innovation can be performed from a variety of locations and are geographically constrained.

In the midst of the massive economic changes COVID is accelerating today, the creative combination of resources and programs will enable small towns to build a sustainable innovation economy in today’s climate and beyond. .. Technology jobs have proven to be relatively resilient to this pandemic, and the technology-enabled industry that drives and benefits from automation is the one that is most prepared for future growth. It is one. By providing local Americans with access to technical opportunities from digital skills programs to entrepreneurial support and broadband connectivity funders, people can earn a living from anywhere and the fruits of American ingenuity. Helps foster a country that can bloom from coast to coast and anywhere in between.

There is also the general belief, especially among philanthropists, that rural areas do not offer the same opportunities for influence as urban areas. According to a 2015 report, only 5.5% of domestic subsidies go to rural areas. With funding guidelines focused on density and size, small communities often do not have the opportunity to compete. The hit of COVID-19 fully demonstrates these trends, with the initial epidemic of the virus in metropolitan areas of metropolitan recovery efforts, even in the face of increasing cases and limited medical capacity in rural areas. It led to an advantage.

Going to urban areas where adequate resources are needed is important, but funders tend to overlook rural areas, small towns have no way to deal with them, face the same challenges, and rural and urban areas. Overlooks the decisive reality of interdependence between America. As LandO Lakes CEO Beth Ford mentioned the digital divide, it’s not just a local issue … it’s an American competitive issue. Rural and urban economies can strengthen each other. Rural places provide food and fuel to power the city. The spirit of the model community provides Americans with the opportunity to live the way they want and has a history and culture worth preserving.

Beyond the misconceptions about human reality, actually looking at the American countryside is ready for growth, and its success is essential to a comprehensive American future that transcends race, geography, gender, and class. Achieving this United States requires collaborative efforts across sectors, from philanthropy to venture capital, the federal government to local nonprofits, all to strengthen efforts in small towns. Will be. An adaptive approach focused on identifying best practices and extending them to similar locations can turn this moment into a moment that makes the 21st century economy accessible to everyone.

Companion leaders in the philanthropic and non-profit world will be able to live in a country that is available and accessible to communities where economic opportunities are ubiquitous when the country revives after this devastating pandemic. I was calling for participation to support the American countryside.

Matt Dunne is the founder and clerk of Center on Rural Innovation, a non-profit action tank that promotes economic prosperity in rural America through the creation of a comprehensive digital economic ecosystem that supports entrepreneurship and job creation. I’m the director.

Katy Knight is the Secretary-General of the Siegel Family Endowment, a foundation focused on understanding and shaping the impact of technology on society. She works closely with founder and chairman David Siegel to develop and improve the organization’s funding strategy and vision.

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