rural development

Eighty-four percent of Hoosiers have broadband internet access. Those that don’t live mostly in rural places – where poor connectivity is an economic problem.

The state legislature heard a range of ideas to fix that problem Thursday in their first of three study committee meetings on rural broadband.

Rep. Dave Ober (R-Noble County) says flat or shrinking populations make for tricky economics that will demand multiple solutions.

 

The latest federal employment numbers show jobs growing more quickly in urban areas than rural ones across the country – despite low unemployment across all regions.

Seventy percent of job growth from 2016 to 2017 was in places with more than a million residents, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Meanwhile, rural places still struggled to create new jobs and maintain their workforces.

In Indiana, data shows 29 counties gaining jobs more slowly than the national rate in the past year, and another 23 losing jobs overall.

The Indianapolis suburbs are growing, while rural areas of the state lose residents.

That trend isn’t new, but it deepened in 2016 census data analyzed this summer by the Indiana Business Research Center.

The data shows Indiana’s fastest-growing city is Whitestown, in Boone County. It’s topped that list for six years running, as its population has more than doubled.

As Indiana farmers hurry through planting season – the corn crop is nearly three-quarters planted as of Monday, with soybeans nearly half done – they’re also watching big changes at the USDA.

The department is reorganizing its trade and rural development programs, while the White House takes aim at those issues in its own way.

 

A new study from Purdue University on the effects of the state’s new method for taxing farmland shows what rural areas will take the biggest hit from the change.

Indiana taxes farmland mainly on the value of crops the soil can produce. But that calculation has lagged behind the current crop market.

It based farmland property assessments on 4-year-old crop prices, meaning taxes climbed even as farm revenues began to decline.

Cavale Doom / https://www.flickr.com/photos/cavale/

Indiana public health officials are hoping a handful of housing initiatives spearheaded by the USDA will eventually help recovering addicts in rural areas transition to healthier lives. But it may take a while for some solutions to arrive.

The USDA, through its rural housing services, makes thousands of Indiana homes available to low-income residents through guaranteed and direct loans. The agency also owns a number of foreclosed homes.

Right-To-Farm, Education Top Priorities At Indiana Farm Bureau Meeting

Aug 29, 2016
Annie Ropeik / Indiana Public Broadcasting

More than 250 Indiana Farm Bureau members met in Indianapolis Saturday Aug. 27 to finalize the the organization’s 2017 positions on agricultural policy – from land use and environmental protection issues, to education and rural development.

  The delegates from each county farm bureau spent about five hours voting on line edits to their official stances. That included adding support for Indiana’s right to farm law, and for a balance between state funds for rural development and money for more urban-centric programs like the Regional Cities Initiative.

m.krema / https://www.flickr.com/photos/m_krema/11177246293/

 

A new report from Purdue University says the Internet connectivity gap is widening between the state's rural and urban counties.

Indiana already ranks among the bottom 10 states for Internet access. In 2014, only 71 percent of Hoosiers had access to broadband internet, according to census data.

 

About 12 percent had no Internet access at all, and about one percent were still using dial-up.

Annie Ropeik / Indiana Public Broadcasting

State officials are taking the road funding debate outside the statehouse, to rural locations across the state.

The meetings between the Department of Transportation and Indiana Farm Bureau are a chance for rural residents to speak up about their infrastructure needs.

Larry Pullam was one such resident at a recent meeting in Crawfordsville. He's a retired corn and soybean farmer from Hendricks County, and says he never felt like he had a voice in the infrastructure conversation before the meeting.

USDA Grants Aim To Bring Rural Towns Online

Apr 22, 2016
Irene Grassi / https://www.flickr.com/photos/sun_sand_sea

The USDA is offering up nearly $12 million in funding to increase internet access in rural communities.

The annual federal grant program has funded one major Indiana broadband project in the past -- an $800,000 community computer center for Harrison County, near Kentucky.

Phil Lehmkuhler is the USDA's rural director in Indiana. He says it's hard to do business these days without the web -- more goods and services go online every year, putting disconnected towns at an increasing disadvantage.