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Recent posts by Brian Depew

From the desk of the executive director: New approach needed for small town housing

Housing in small towns would take care of itself, or so I used to believe.

If we could get employment, education, health care, and quality of life right, the market would surely solve housing. In many rural areas, I figured, decades of population decline left more housing stock than people. Certainly a lack of houses wasn’t stopping people from moving to our small town.

I was wrong.

The president, rural voters and our future

In last fall’s election, enough rural voters switched party allegiance to account for Trump’s victory in several key Midwest and Rust Belt states.

Frustration over the economic plight facing their communities drove many of these voters.

Modern day Great Plains was built by settlers seeking economic and political independence. The region is built on widespread opportunity and the notion that hard work and dedication are all you need to get ahead.

Remembering Jeff Reynolds

It is with a heavy heart that I write to share the news that Jeff Reynolds passed away unexpectedly on April 20, 2017. Jeff directed the Center's small business development program, the Rural Enterprise Assistance Project, or REAP, as it is widely known in Nebraska. He was a veteran staff member, having worked for the Center since 1994.

We will miss his dedication, his good spirit, his can-do attitude, and his uplifting presence.

From the desk of the executive director: The president, rural voters and our future

Rural voters had a moment following last fall’s election. The national media showed up in force seeking to understand them. Enough rural voters had switched party allegiance to account for Trump’s victory over Clinton in several key Midwest and Rust Belt states. 

Frustration over the economic plight facing their community drove many of these voters. For our readers and those who have studied rural issues for decades, this may come as little surprise. 

What if the workers owned it?

The owners of a mid-sized manufacturing plant in a nearby small town were ready to retire, but no one in the next generation was interested in taking over.

The plant was sold to an out-of-state buyer with no local ties. The business was profitable, but the new owners chose to merge operations and close the local plant.

The story is familiar in small towns. Is there an alternative? I think so. Worker-owned co-ops and employee stock ownership plans could offer another path forward for these businesses.

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