Small Towns, Big Picture: Rural Development in a Changing Economy

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Report focuses on refining efforts to take advantage of changing rural economic development opportunities through grounding them in an understanding of certain related and long-term trends.

These include enormous productivity increases in traditional rural industries, global competitive pressures, advances in information technology and increasing interest in rural amenities. Report is intended to help people who design and implement policy and programs understand the multi-faceted context within which rural development takes place.

Report focuses mainly on economic aspects, but the context is also geographic, political, and sociological. Section 1 describes policy objectives used to justify rural development efforts. Section 2 provides a discussion of diversity of rural America and how diversity helps one understand changing development opportunities. Section 3 provides an overview of the global economy and its effects on rural places. Section 4 looks specifically at how information technology both helps and hinders rural participation in the global economy. Section 5 focuses on the four economic sectors that are critical to rural America: natural resources, manufacturing, services and the amenity-based sector.

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