A discussion on Capitol Hill about keeping and attracting more people to rural areas to improve economic development turned to the subject of young people. Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly told Doug O’Brien, USDA Undersecretary for Rural Development, that it’s a big concern of his, “One of the things I worry about is losing our young people in a lot of our rural communities. It’s jobs, it’s quality of life, it is the chance to have them trained with appropriate skills, to have the infrastructure in the town or community to encourage good jobs to come,” says Donnelly.
O’Brien said the new regional systems provision in the Farm Bill will help communities leverage their dollars in rural areas to promote the things that will help attract young people and help keep them there.
“One of the basic tenants of a lot of the regional strategies is look at the assets you have, focusing on those recreational and natural assets, lifting up with some relatively low investments. It might be in a bike trail, it might be in a music festival,” says O’Brien.
Another requirement, he says, is having high-speed broadband access in all rural areas. He says the USDA has been working on that but there is still work to do.