Rural Jobs, Rural Innovation

We know that rural communities have an incredible knack for innovation, even when facing a lack of resources.  Entrepreneurship is alive and well in Nevada County. As we look to the future of our rural economy, we know that we are going to have to get creative if want a thriving economy.

This article from Venture Beat points out that, “If it seems like rural Americans face an uphill fight, it’s because they do. Research shows that job growth in rural areas significantly lags job growth in urban areas and still has not returned to 2008 pre-financial crisis levels. Prime-age (25-54) workers in rural areas are also poorer than their urban counterparts, and a disproportionately high percentage of rural workers are affected by changes in technology and environment regulations.”

In places like Colorado, the state is partnering with Investment Firms in order to provide start up capital in rural communities.  A similar model in rural California could help provide critical funding to California’s best innovators.

The article goes on to say, “The economic divide between urban and rural communities is fueling a growing political and cultural divide. While one $9 million fund in Colorado won’t heal the division between urban and rural communities, it is a step in the right direction and sets an example Congress and the White House should follow. A federally backed national rural innovation fund would send a strong message that there is more to rural America than just shuttered factories and abandoned coal mines.”

Rural Communities and Healthcare

All elected officials, at every level government, should be advocating for a healthcare plan that works for all Americans–especially in rural communities.  

As noted in an article from FamiliesUSA.org, “Rural residents in communities across America rely on Medicaid to get health coverage. Medicaid also helps rural hospitals keep their doors open so they can continue to provide people with health care and jobs.”

The article goes on the say that cutting healthcare “could severely hurt rural Americans and cripple state economies across the country.”

 rural hospital

When our elected officials talk about cost or taxes for healthcare, they should know that we are already paying “taxes” for healthcare. How many GoFundMe campaigns for medical expenses are we asked to contribute to each year? Working families are already tasked with the burden of supporting each other through medical emergencies. We already shoulder this burden. Isn’t it time that health care reform support American families?

Because rural communities are disproportionately more poor than urban and suburban communities, rural hospitals serve a disproportionate number of medicare/medicaid patients. 47 percent of rural children get their health coverage through Medicaid.   

Hospitals like Sierra Nevada Memorial in Grass Valley have tighter budgets than urban or University hospitals and are more significantly impacted when insurance claims are denied, or when emergency room visitors are uninsured or unable to pay. As noted by US News, “Since 2010, at least 79 rural hospitals have closed across the country, and nearly 700 more are at risk of closing.”

As we see increasing rhetoric from Washington DC about repealing health care or making cuts to medicaid, rural communities like ours will be disproportionately affected.

We must have elected officials who understand how critical the issue of healthcare is to families, to small businesses and to rural communities.  I support universal healthcare and as your next Nevada County Supervisor, I will advocate for families, for small businesses and for our community.

The Economy

The consumer economy is changing.  As millennials grow professionally, we are seeing their spending habits differ greatly from Boomers and Gen Xers.  Some economists are betting that millennials will assume the spending habits of the Baby Boomers once they have the means.  Economic trends disagree.

Online consumer spending is increasing and people are turning to the internet more and more for their shopping needs. Services that deliver food to your doorstep are changing the way families share meals. What does that mean for Nevada County? Our small businesses must adapt in order to attract customers.

If we are going to stay economically competitive in Nevada County, we must move from a consumption economy to an experience economy.  It is not enough to have a restaurant with decent food or a shop with interesting items. Consumers are looking for an experience.

The good news is that Nevada County is already perfectly poised to move into the next era of consumer spending.

Organizations like Grass Valley’s Downtown Association, the Greater Grass Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Center for the Arts, and so many more, are providing Nevada County’s residents and visitors with more than just retail and dining.  With events like the Wild and Scenic Film Festival and Music in the Mountains’ annual Brewfest, Nevada County is already on the map.

The hard work of the Nevada County Arts Council partnering with the cities of Nevada City and Grass Valley to have Western Nevada County granted State Cultural District designations is a great example of how governments and community organizations can partner in order to raise our community’s visibility as both a great destination and a great place to live.