Keepin’ it rural
Written by ALEXANDRA PASTERNAK-JACKSON
My first visit to rural America was in 2005, driving along the main road of a small Texas town of roughly 7000 residents called Mexia, towards land that my husband’s family has ranched for generations. Mexia is a large town by relative definition- famously home to the only Walmart in all of Limestone County. The next town over is Tehuacana, Texas, with a population of 283 people.
Less than 20 percent of Americans live in rural areas, but rural areas cover 97 percent of U.S. land mass. Rural areas are defined by the U.S. census as communities with less than 50 000 people. Their populations have steadily shrunk over the last few decades as (most often) younger generations have moved to urban and sub-urban areas. Rural areas were slower to recover after the 2008 financial crisis and overall see slower growth than their urban counterparts.
According to the U.S. census only 17 percent of business operates in rural areas, the majority of business is located in cities. With increases in infrastructure and broadband investment for rural areas, this trend might slowly be shifting. Rural areas are more economically and demographically diverse than ever.
With a shift away from farming and small manufacturing towns, rural communities now support a wide range of jobs, from digital services to advanced manufacturing to recreational tourism. Rural Americans have some of the highest rates of upward economic mobility in the nation, with higher high school graduation rates and higher rates of home ownership, than their urban counterparts. Could ‘keeping it rural’ be a positive trend for small businesses and rural communities alike?
Location, Location, Location
Through Amcham Finland’s Launchpad USA platform we work with many Finnish companies heading into the U.S. market, briefing them, working with them, and walking them through critical decisions like market entry and operational locations. Gone are the days where California and New York were the obvious and perhaps only realistic choices, our successful members have entered and expanded in many other cities and clusters.
Many people assume that if you locate your business in an urban area, like New York or L.A. you are bound to be more successful than others located in more rural areas. At first glance, this might make sense because cities have more consumers, more prospective employees, easier access to business assistance ecosystems, logistic and supply chain infrastructure, and more capital flows through urban areas…