Kathy Kelley's Blog
There has been a lot of concern about the state of rural America and how it's being affected by large businesses. Big box stores like are said to destroy local businesses, causing an economic drought in small towns. But despite the statistics, there's a bigger picture to consider. We'll look at how big businesses cause big and small changes alike for the rural homelands of America.
Many people living in a small town will tell you that big business destroys it from the outside in. In Winchester, IL, one local lawyer met serious challenges in trying to get a local market off the ground, largely because his main produce supplier backed out of their original deal.
His concern is that if neighbors can't even buy a banana in their town, what exactly is their incentive to stay? There are about 5 million people living in rural areas that need to travel at least 10 miles or more to purchase fresh (not prepackaged or frozen) groceries.
Real Estate in Rural America
The story of grocery stores is an important one when trying to understand the larger effects of what big businesses do to small towns. These anecdotal tales support the larger real estate trends in America, in that there are few people moving to small towns. This lack of interest has caused very few property owners to improve or modernize properties in rural areas.
The scarcity of well-maintained homes has caused their value to increase. So while the average cost of a home in rural America may seem very affordable, it's likely because the home is in a state of disrepair. In addition, financing may be difficult to obtain, due to the lack of available lenders in the area.
The Good News
The people who still live in rural America are not prepared to let their communities fall by the wayside. Across the country, residents are creating (and supporting) local markets that offer everything from fresh food to homemade crafts. Other communities are offering everything from utility credits to free swim passes for families.
There are also government programs available that incentivize people to move to rural areas and invest their efforts into the forgotten properties. USDA loans offer extremely reasonable interest rates and lending terms to buyers who want the chance to own their own home and participate in their community.