Building Rural Prosperity

While growth in urban communities has become smarter and more compact, low-density development is devouring America’s best farmland. A lack of rural planning is largely to blame. One problem is the absence of a clear definition of rural. The suite of programs, policies, and investment opportunities called “rural development” is largely determined by deficits — i.e., the absence of people and a lack of amenities compared to urban areas.

The panelists are experts in farmland protection and rural development. They will demonstrate the extent of rural sprawl and its impacts on rural economies and land best suited for food production. Examine rural definitions and how they guide investment, and hear the case for spurring rural prosperity using an asset-based framework. Hear case study examples of how an asset-based approach, in this case, focused on value-added agriculture and regional food systems, can bolster rural economic development and bridge the urban/rural divide.

Fianally, panelists and participants will engage in an interactive discussion of issues, such as: why should urban planners care about rural communities, how to invest based on rural assets versus an urban context, and how to promote equity and diversity in rural wealth creation.

Learning Outcomes

  • Recognize the impacts of low-density rural development on agriculture and food production and the need to strengthen rural planning practice.
  • Distinguish the variety of rural assets and use them to strengthen planning and local policies for increasing prosperity and equity in rural communities.
  • Explore the potential adoption of an asset-based framework to create rural wealth through collaborative governance.

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