We are witnessing a tale of two very different Americas, in which some people and entire communities are being left behind. It doesn't have to be this way.
If you boil it down to its most simplest elements, economic development is about investing in people and infrastructure to affect positive change, which is doubly important in rural communities.
We may not have a full grasp on what the jobs of the future will be, but it’s a pretty safe bet that many if not most will be either be based on digital technologies or highly influenced by them.
Getting on the digital bandwagon was the subject of a talk that I recently gave at the Mid-Year Conference of the Texas Economic Development Council. (I would gladly give it to your group, too.)
If rural America is to compete for future capital investment and jobs, it must embrace digital tools that will allow it grow and prosper. It’s the closest thing that I can think of to a magic button for economic development in rural America.
It means investment in broadband, now considered a basic utility by business. Do not build it, and they can't come. There are different options for rural communities to get this done.
It also means that kids should learn the language of technology, which is code. Every kid should have some level of coding education before they graduate high school. Investing in infrastructure and human resources (ourselves) has to happen if rural America is not to become excluded America.