Monday, April 29, 2013

Kansas program keeps young people in rural towns, attracts new ones

The 18-to-29 age group was 23 percent of the U.S. rural population in 1970 but only 14 percent in 2010With more and more young people leaving rural areas, several states have started programs to steer young people toward rural life. Kansas, which is believed to have the first such program, has found success, and is revitalizing small towns with young, fresh faces, reports Kevin Murphy for Reuters. (Reuters photo by Kevin Murphy: Mike Bosch, 34, opened a business in Baldwin City, Kan. Seventeen of his 19 employees are under 40, and half live in the town of 4,500.)

PowerUp, a "social and business network that touts rural life for the under-40 crowd and lets them know they are not alone," is trying to reverse the anti-rural trend in Kansas, Murphy reports. The program, which relies on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets, was created a little more than two years ago by Marci Penner, and has 1,200 members. Penner said, "I thought that if we could connect these people they'd be happier and more likely to stay. A lot of people living in these rural areas feel isolated." (Read more)

PowerUp describes itself as people 21 to 39 who "are rural by choice, and who have made a conscious decision to embrace and enhance the rural communities in which they live," according to its website. "It's about connecting, empowering, and engaging with constructive and dynamic new ideas to help change the face and shape of rural through economic opportunities, quality of life, and community involvement."

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