What if… (economic development/jobs)

  • What if our rural communities are given the flexibility to design and provide the safety net (human services) system for our most vulnerable residents in community-based partnerships? These services should be integrated into the community infrastructure through family/community resource centers. These centers can become our community hubs to support community livelihood, sustainability and cohesion.
  • Rural America has a hard time recruiting and retaining healthcare professionals.  A common strategy to combat this is to encourage local kids to attend medical school and then come back home.
    BUT what frequently happens is that the local kid goes to college and before they even get to medical school, meets the boy/girl of his/her dreams, and the life partner is from an urban area and doesn’t see a future living in rural America. 
    WHAT IF… some sort of loan repayment or tax credit program was offered to the spouses of healthcare professionals to encourage them to set up a business in a rural community where their spouse was practicing?  So for example, the husband of a physician wanted to set up an accounting firm.  Hubby would be offered a $5000 loan to start the business, and for each year the business existed and the healthcare professional continued to practice in the area, a portion of the loan was forgiven.
  • What if we saw as central to our work to improve rural communities a necessity to tackle the suicidal despair that wracks communities struggling with the opioid epidemic and aggressively worked to dismantle the silos between health, individual social services, and economic development so that efforts centered on a systematic strategy of culture change, leadership development, and alternative job creation that’s outcome is building a culture that has a desire to live.
  • What if .. dream… Provide employment opportunities for all rural citizens so they may afford the lifestyle (health, education, and home) they so choose for themselves and their family?
  • What if there were resources to the reengagement of rural America in creating living wage jobs? What mfg drones were taking place in rural America w/training? What if I were rich? Create an endowed foundation to fund programs and economic development across rural south!
  • What if we could prove that listening and telling stories of place, pain, joy, dreams, and history is a necessary precondition of economic development?
  • What if we could “quantify” the value of human capital in rural economic development? What if every child had a support system from birth (CSA) (trauma)?
  • What if a teacher prep program was created in the MS Delta centered on place, language, context and recruited, selected and prepared veterans, people who have been formerly incarcerated, people receiving public assistance, and other adults who have not had past success with traditional education routes. This would provide a pipeline of local educators prepared to teach in their local communities and create a viable means of transitioning more adults to middle class.
  • What if …In most small rural communities -> K-12 education is the #1 employer? We need to make K-12 education the pillar of the community and economic development. -> Breakdown silos
  • What if… – Schools valued growth mindset over competency? – …We did not openly discriminate against 1/4 of our population? 1 in 4 have a criminal history. We should have an automatic streamlined expungement process. – …We had a leadership pipeline that flowed seamlessly from the educational system to the community? (opportunities to grow and serve – community action teams w/youth [illegible]) …-We expanded afterschool programming and engaged and afforded an opportunity for every youth in some extracurricular activity? …- Schools focused on an interdisciplinary learning approach that included practical life skills with social and emotional learning. – …Employers focused on doing community workshops to engage potential employees instead of job fairs?
  • What if all children in rural communities lived in families where at least one parent/caregiver had a job with pay above 200% of poverty?