There is no single rural America; its communities have diverse industries, cultures, and people. But definitions of these areas tend to lump them together under the catchall of “not urban” and focus on what these communities are perceived as lacking. These practices result in rural communities being categorized by their challenges, not their strengths, obscuring their varied realities. Rural communities are much more than what they need. Many are rich in resources, diversity, and potential. By better understanding these strengths, policymakers from the local to the federal level, practitioners, and investors can build on communities’ potential to better target investment and support.
Please join the Urban Institute for a discussion about how we can better understand the strengths of rural communities and how to leverage their assets. We will begin with remarks by Xochitl Torres Small, under secretary for rural development in the US Department of Agriculture, followed by a demonstration of Urban’s new typology and dashboard with national data on rural census tracts and peer groups that support asset-based rural investments and capacity building. After the demonstration, a panel of rural stakeholders will discuss the opportunities and challenges of identifying rural assets and using an asset-based investment framework.