Hopeful news is coming from rural communities across the nation. A recent op-ed in the New York Times highlights trends that have been driving The Hub’s local policy work in communities across West Virginia through the Next Generation Communities Project in partnership with Generation West Virginia.
How do we take the ideas from this New York Times op-ed about Americans who want to move to rural areas and turn them into actionable ideas for our communities? Local policy changes can move the needle in a big way as we work to build stronger communities and economies that have a better chance of attracting, and keeping, residents.
There are a number of national studies that show that people under 50 are staying in and returning to their rural hometowns. They’re feeling hopeful about economic opportunities for themselves and their children, taking advantage of affordable entrepreneurship opportunities, and creating innovative approaches to farming and family business.
Factors such as a sense of community, loyalty to place, diversity, and economic opportunity are all contributing to the choice to live in smaller, rural communities. All factors that can be impacted by local policy changes.
This, in turn is shifting the national narrative from one which previously identified success as being able to leave one’s rural roots behind and now is increasingly invested in the ability to contribute to thriving rural communities.
We’re not the only ones recognizing that rural America offers something unique and special for people under 50. It’s a trend that’s picking up steam across the nation – good news for community members in West Virginia who are rolling up their sleeves and working to make local change.