By Anthony F. Pipa
In this first season of the “Reimagine Rural” podcast, I talked to local leaders, investors, and small-business owners from rural towns across the U.S. that are making progress amid economic and social change. We don’t often hear about what is going right in rural America. The podcast gave me an opportunity to visit bright spots—or at least places that have begun to emit a strong, steady glow—and glean lessons to help scale up success in other rural communities across the country.
The places were exceptionally diverse: geographically, racially, and economically.* Yet across such diversity, several themes consistently surfaced with implications for creating successful place-based policy—and not just in rural America. These lessons have relevance across a wide spectrum of places around the globe seeking to advance inclusive, sustainable development.
Local leadership is foundational
Jeff Yost, who has led the Nebraska Community Foundation for 25 years, recently described a fundamental development principle this way: “Communities can only be built and sustained by those who live and work there.” The podcast’s stories demonstrate the importance of local leadership—for understanding…