Governments Strategize To Strengthen Rural Communities
A new report presented last month by the National Association of Governors (NGA) has identified strategies which build on states’ inherent regional strengths to help governors create dynamic rural economies.
The paper, “Innovative State Policy Options to Promote Rural Economic Development,” concludes that states which support “industry clusters,” promote entrepreneurship, and encourage value added agriculture and agricultural diversification efforts, will be well positioned to create sustainable and replicable economic development.
States are employing clustering strategies to invigorate rural communities. Clusters are concentrations of competing and cooperating companies, suppliers, service providers, and associated institutions such as the computer and software cluster in Silicon Valley, California.
“It is inspiring to see that states are taking the initiative to invest in the future of our rural and agricultural communities. Kentucky has seen an emergence of rural entrepreneurs through investments in the Rural Innovation Fund and especially in our Agricultural Development Fund which touches producers in every county in the Commonwealth,” said NGA Chairman Kentucky Governor Paul Patton.
One strategy uses diversification and value added agriculture to strengthen rural economies.The report notes that farmers have recognized that they can earn more income by diversifying – growing different types of crops or raising non-traditional species of livestock.
Farmers are directly processing their crops into finished products that they market and sell themselves – the value-added strategy at work. States can provide the capital and technical assistance that allow farmers to follow these new paths to wealth creation.
“However they are formed and implemented, rural economic development policies must build upon the inherent strengths of rural America, chief among them are abundant natural resources, close-knit communities, strong local business networks, and a largely untapped tradition of entrepreneurial creativity,” the report concludes.
“There is still much work to be done to ensure a sustainable rural economy for future generations, Governor Patton said. “As a nation, we have embarked on a long-term investment that demands not only the commitment of the individuals involved in these programs, but a commitment that must continue in future governors, congressmen, and citizens throughout America.”