Rural America is the next place to pioneer.
For years we have known this – but the movement was slow and would take a decade or more to move the needle significantly towards population growth.
Rural communities need better housing, broadband, amenities, medical services, education, and transportation to compete with urban areas for a new workforce. These communities still need all of these things, but the timeline has been sped up due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It has completely transformed the way work is being done, and now there will be millions of people looking for new places to live, work and play.
The time is now to upgrade technology and other infrastructure to attract a new workforce. “The Great Pause” has proven, rapidly, that teleworking is possible and productive, and that urban centers may not be the healthiest places to live.
The questions are: Do densely packed urban centers continue to be the primary places for growth? Could a small percentage of the workforce continue to telework and/or not return to urban centers? What does this mean for rural communities and how do they respond? Do they have the broadband they need, housing, amenities, etc. to lure those who wish for a change?
Ninety-Seven will explore these themes as we approach a post-COVID-19 world. Is rural America ready to embrace the future? And if so, how and where? We will investigate these communities and share stories of growth and growing pains, marketing successes and failures, dreams dreamt and realized.
97% of the country is rural, yet 80% of the population lives in urban centers. We don’t think the center will hold, and it’s time to explore the exotic lands of rural America.