What Would It Look Like If Rural America Really Mattered?

This is the third in our continuing series of articles about successes in rural America — this time sharing Elkader, Iowa’s story

If rural communities mattered as much as they should, not more, not less, but just as much as they deserve, there would be a wholesale shift in how rural economic development gets done in rural America. Donelle Eller’s recent Des Moines Register article (Businesses help spark rural revitalization – Iowa’s Rural Economy: Increased Investment Brings Optimism, June 10, 2007) discusses at length the progress that Elkader, a community of 1,500 in Northeast Iowa, has had with rural revitalization.

Eller reports that Elkader has attracted new residents and businesses from across the nation.

College Tuition Becoming Unaffordable

New poll shows over three-fifths of Americans believe qualified students won’t be able to attend college because of rising tuition rates; improved tax credits would help

As our students look beyond high school, many will undertake some form of higher education. A recent national poll and report released by Public Agenda and the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education indicates widespread concern that the opportunity to go to college may not be available to all qualified students.

The report, Squeeze Play: How Parents and the Public Look at Higher Education Today, reveals that the public sees higher education as essential for success in the workplace. But tuition is rising too fast, and 62 percent agree that many qualified students will not have the opportunity to obtain a college education.

Art and Culture Mean Big Business for Small Rural Communities

New study shows that art and culture events not only enhance rural living, they also bring visitors who spend about twice as much as the locals ($40.19 compared to $19.53) while they are in town

The nation’s nonprofit arts and culture communities provide a large source of revenue for their regions. Arts-based communities have seen revenue skyrocket over 24 percent from 2000 to 2005, according to a study done by Americans for the Arts. Many arts-based organizations also strive to make their communities more enjoyable places to live and, by doing so, have become economic drivers as well.

Important Work of Rural Community Colleges

Research in the rural mid-south shows that not only do community colleges provide a direct economic boost, they expand a community’s social and cultural identity

Through nearly 100 interviews in three case study communities in the mid-south, rural community colleges were found to be major instruments in creating a higher quality of life in their towns. Aside from bringing some economic advantage to these communities, the rural colleges served as major tools in defining a community’s sense of character. The study found three benefits community colleges offer their communities.

Red Velvet Cake – 4th of July Recipe

Every workplace, church, hometown has a number of people who are known for their excellent food. Our office is blessed with incredibly good cooks who can turn a meal into a feast on any occasion. Our chief accountant, Hayley Hallstrom, from Pender knows that when we have something to celebrate (we celebrate often) that the first thing out of at least one person’s mouth is, “Great, have Hayley make a Red Velvet Cake!”

I am not sure when the first Red Velvet Cake was made, but I am guessing sometime in the ‘40’s or ‘50’s. My mother, one of those women the town looked to for the best of the best when it came to covered dish suppers, loved to make a Red Velvet Cake for the 4th of July. We had homemade vanilla ice cream on it and gained about 5 pounds per slice.

Recently I saw Paula Dean make Red Velvet Cupcakes on her cooking show, and they reminded me again of how delicious Mother’s recipe was. Here is her recipe from our hometown church cookbook. Enjoy! — Barbara Chamness, 402.687.2103 x 1009,


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