Friday, March 26, 2010

Report says rural Midwest needs to rethink development strategy of direct incentives

A new report from the Chicago Council on Global Affairs says the rural Midwest must "move past silos and smokestacks" to remain competitive in the 21st Century global economy. To encourage new industry and job creation, the region needs to "partner regionally to compete globally," writes report lead author Dr. Mark Drabenstott, founding director of the Rural Policy Research Institute Center for Regional Competitiveness. He reveals that nearly 80 percent of the money in development budgets in the 12 Midwestern states goes to recruitment incentives for projects like factories.

"The Midwest can no longer base its 21st Century future on this 20th-Century playbook," Drabenstott writes. The report, "Past Silos and Smokestacks: Transforming the Rural Economy in the Midwest," was released as the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development directors for the 12 states -- Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin -- meet in Chicago today to discuss how to allocate nearly $722 million in funding, according to a Newswise release.

"Regional action across traditional political boundaries, targeted investment in public goods such as transportation and telecommunications, active efforts to spur innovation, and a focus on regional competitive advantages will stimulate the rural economy," says the release. Drabenstott calls for federal representatives, state governments, businesses, and nonprofit organizations to provide leadership and action for regional collaboration. (Read more)

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