What Makes a Rural Area Hot?

It’s common to hear bad news about rural counties. Young people are moving away. Population is declining. Services are disappearing. You know the story. But it’s not true everywhere.

Country has always been cool. Now it’s downright hot. Here are the characteristics that draw newcomers to rural counties that are growing.

They offer amenities. That would be scenery—lakes, mountains and perhaps historical significance. To some surprise, one high-growth rural area is the Upper Great Lakes. Why? Because they offer recreational access to outdoors activities centered on the lakes. The West saw its rural counties grow by 20% in the 1990s. The West and the South combined ¬accounted for three-quarters of rural growth in the 1990s.

They have access to the city. USDA calls rural counties close to cities “interaction zones.” High-growth rural counties interact with urban centers. They are influenced by urban economies and by urban social and leisure offerings. Forty percent of farms in the United States are found inside these interaction zones. They are prime areas for the newcomers.

Farming is not No. 1. Growth counties are not ¬necessarily agriculturally dependent. Of the 2,305 rural ¬counties in the United States, only one in five is dependent on agriculture.

Used with permission, The Progressive Farmer, All Rights Reserved.

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