Metropolitan and rural America are highly connected and interdependent. To succeed, metropolitan America needs a healthy and sustainable rural economy and culture, and in turn rural America needs vibrant, well-functioning cities and suburbs to thrive and flourish. Yet, the prevailing national narrative pits urban versus rural for investments and public resources, and official statistical definitions often create hard lines between urban and rural, and metropolitan and non-metropolitan.
This issue brief from the NADO Research Foundation describes some ways in which regional development organizations and other regional entities are recognizing the importance of connecting rural regions and urban centers. As yet, most of these connections are incidental to other efforts rather than intentional strategies, but it is possible to see three broad approaches that show promise for regional economic development by strengthening rural-urban linkages. These are:
- Actions to level the playing field for rural residents and business so that they are not unduly penalized by distance and lack of economies of scale
- Actions intended to increase opportunities for interaction and employment
- Actions to expand economic development
Creating Opportunity and Prosperity Through Strengthening Rural-Urban Connections contains case studies on efforts underway across the country to support rural-urban connections in broadband development, disaster resilience, transportation, and food systems.
Additional NADO resources on rural-urban connections, such as workshop materials and a webinar recording, can also be found here, as well.