Metropolitan and rural America are highly connected and interdependent. To succeed, metropolitan America needs a healthy and sustainable rural economy and culture, and in turn rural America needs vibrant, well-functioning cities and suburbs to thrive and flourish. Yet, the prevailing national narrative pits urban versus rural for investments and public resources, and official statistical definitions often create hard lines between urban and rural, and metropolitan and non-metropolitan.
For most families and businesses, however, there is no clear distinction between urban and rural places. Flows of people, capital, goods, and information continually blur political and geographic boundaries. People commute to work, make family visits, or take trips and vacations. Businesses source materials and labor across regions largely ignoring rural-urban boundaries, and sell their goods and materials to customers irrespective of their locations. Rural economies and places supply food, energy, workers, and ecosystem services while urban economies and places provide markets, capital, jobs, and specialized services, reinforcing a productive and deepening interdependence. Both rural and urban communities offer to each other a wealth of recreation and cultural opportunities.
This issue brief from the NADO Research Foundation describes some ways in which regional development organizations and other regional entities are recognizing the importance of connecting rural regions and urban centers. As yet, most of these connections are incidental to other efforts rather than intentional strategies, but it is possible to see three broad approaches that show promise for regional economic development by strengthening rural-urban linkages. These are:
- Actions to level the playing field for rural residents and businesses so that they are not unduly penalized by distance and lack of economies of scale
- Actions intended to increase opportunities for inter-action and employment
- Actions to expand economic development
“Creating Opportunity and Prosperity Through Strengthening Rural-Urban Connections” contains case studies on efforts underway across the country to support rural-urban connections in the areas of broadband development, disaster resilience, transportation, and food systems. Click here (PDF) to download the issue brief.
Additional NADO Resources:
- [Workshop Materials]: Strengthening Rural-Urban Connections to Support Competitive Regions
- [Webinar Recording]: Rural-Urban Connections
Questions? Please contact NADO Research Foundation Program Manager Brett Schwartz at email@example.com.
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