Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Study suggests keys to local progress in Appalachia

A new University of Tennessee study highlights the strengths and weaknesses of Appalachian rural communities by examining the challenges facing economic and community development in 10 Appalachian counties in eight states from Pennsylvania to Mississippi. The report explains how local governments, agencies and community organizations respond to those challenges, and shows how five formerly distressed counties improved their local economies as an example to other communities.

"Location is often a key factor in a county's success," the report found. Non-distressed counties "generally benefited" from their proximity to urban areas. Attitudes about local economy, entrepreneurship and business development also contribute to a county's success, according to the report. The study says that education is very important to development in Appalachia. Improvement to local schools and community colleges, in particular, has boosted local economies. Partnerships with universities also "brings important benefits to Appalachian communities." 

Several recommendations were made in the report about how to continue progress in Appalachia, including making rural broadband a priority and sharing of governmental services by small counties. (Read more)

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