Why ‘micropolitan’ cities may be the key to rural resurgence
Friday, December 21, 2018
A development expert says small cities and towns can be catalysts for lagging rural counties
While the nation’s diverse rural areas, which cover roughly 90 percent of the U.S. and provide a home for about 60 million Americans, are often dynamic and inviting, many have recently faced economic headwinds. Huge social shifts, like aging populations, declining manufacturing activity, and the clustering of tech and service jobs in cities, have left less-dense parts of the United States struggling to keep up, contributing to a negative, pernicious, and overblown narrative that some areas are “beyond hope.”
That’s not the story of Findlay, Ohio, which offers a counterpoint to this narrative. The small city of 41,000 has not only seen manufacturing remain part of the local employment picture—it accounts for roughly 22 percent of jobs for the last three decades—but manufacturing employment in 2016 was actually higher than the pre-recession peak in 2007. Economic development officials proudly talk about the success of the “Findlay Formula”: getting private, public, and nonprofit partners working together to create jobs and opportunities.