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Rural News

Severe flooding hits Southern Idaho hard

Capital Press | Posted on February 23, 2017

Heavy rains, warm weather and melting snow have combined to cause widespread flooding across Southern Idaho, with Cassia County taking the brunt of the damage.  Canals and creeks are overflowing, roads have been washed out or closed, basements are flooding and water is standing up to 2 feet deep in fields or causing erosion as it runs to lower ground. “It’s pretty devastating for sure. In the Malta area, there’s 100 percent devastation; it’s incredible,” said Joel Packham, Cassia County extension educator. A lot of the area is under water, many houses are being threatened and a lot of fields are going to be effected, he said.

Alfond Foundation vows to pay off students’ debt to draw STEM workers to Maine

Bangor Daily News | Posted on February 23, 2017

In hopes of courting more specialists in science, technology, engineering and math to Maine, the Harold Alfond Foundation is rolling out a new grant program to help them pay off college debts. With an initial investment of $5.5 million, the Alfond Leaders competitive grant program will give about 150 recipients up to $60,000 in college debt relief per person over the next three years, the foundation announced Tuesday. The grants will be administered by the Finance Authority of Maine. The grants are open to Maine residents or people who expect to move to Maine after being hired by a company here. Applicants must have outstanding student loan debt and a higher education degree or certificate. They also must be employed or have employment lined up in a STEM role at a Maine-based company.

Webinar on Supporting Entrepreneurial Economies

Aspen Institute | Posted on February 22, 2017

Rural America was front and center in the 2016 national election. Media headlines focused attention on our nation’s acute rural challenges – the decline of critical sectors like mining and manufacturing, technology-driven worker dislocation in those industries and agriculture, inadequate job opportunities for dislocated workers, infrastructure challenges, community health crises, and more. But a deeper understanding of rural America reveals a companion picture – one where innovation and collaborative local leadership are turning challenges into opportunities. Rather than wait on solutions from outside, many rural places are building on their existing assets and designing creative economic development approaches that drive toward more broadly shared prosperity while creating and retaining jobs. Webinar is Friday Mar 17.

America's Rural Opportunity: Supporting Entrepreneurial Economies

Aspen Institute | Posted on February 20, 2017

America’s Rural Opportunity is a six-part series that invites policymakers, economic and community development practitioners, and business and philanthropic leaders to engage in real dialogue around advancing a rural opportunity agenda. This second America’s Rural Opportunity panel will focus on a group of innovators that drive the American economy – entrepreneurs and the organizations that support them. Particularly in rural communities, entrepreneurs are the engines for job growth and, with support, can become anchors for community economic development. Rural entrepreneurs bring leadership, create wealth that stays in the community, and diversify local economies to create resilience in uncertain economic times. In many rural communities, the legacy of reliance on a single employer or economic sector has stunted the development of an entrepreneurial culture. The panel will highlight how leading rural economic development practitioners take on the task of cultivating entrepreneurs and how the entrepreneurs themselves leverage that support into successful business ventures. Their stories will highlight innovative ways to drive capital and other resources to rural entrepreneurs through public, private, and philanthropic channels.

The Death of the All-American Town

The Wall Street Journal | Posted on February 20, 2017

Lancaster, Ohio, was once a thriving city of glass-makers, shoe factories, natural gas operations and more. By way of culture, it had a music festival, a county fair and the Sherman House (birthplace of the Civil War general). Cozily nestled just west of the Appalachian foothills, it had something in addition to its churches, parks, taverns and bowling alleys. Lancaster was a place where company executives lived within a few blocks of workers, where bankers and union reps belonged to the same lodge, where Anchor Hocking, the town’s biggest employer, backed up a semi loaded with frozen turkeys at Thanksgiving, and where, when its plant caught fire, residents chipped in to rebuild it.

Bill pits bears against bees as Maryland lawmakers seek to protect hives

The Baltimore Sun | Posted on February 20, 2017

McKay, backed by other Western Maryland lawmakers, is asking the General Assembly to extend the same level of protection to bees that it now gives calves, goats, chickens and other animals. A person defending himself, other people or livestock is exempt from a state law that makes shooting a black bear without a permit punishable by a $1,500 fine and six months in jail for a first offense.

Tree mortality epidemic in California forests keeps spreading

Capital Press | Posted on February 20, 2017

A task force set up by Gov. Jerry Brown is seeking solutions as drought, pests and other factors have killed 102 million trees in California forests since 2010. Aerial surveys by the U.S. Forest Service last year found 36 million more dead trees, bringing the number of trees that have died in California forests since 2010 to more than 102 million.

Canadian food banks are growing their own food

Huffington Post | Posted on February 16, 2017

In a bid to make up for a shortfall of high-quality nutritious food, some Canadian food banks are growing their own produce — and even farming fish. The Mississauga Food Bank recently launched AquaGrow Farms, where tilapia is being raised in tanks and lettuce is raised through hydroponics, or without soil.

Can Immigration Hurt the Economy? An Old Prejudice Returns

The New York Times | Posted on February 16, 2017

This time, suspicion is being buttressed by some economists with a proposition not too dissimilar to Laughlin’s: that immigrants could sap America’s vitality by bringing inferior cultural traits from their dysfunctional home countries to erode American social norms. It’s an unsettling assertion. It is laid out with striking candor by Paul Collier, the noted British development economist from Oxford, in his 2013 book “Exodus: How Migration Is Changing Our World” (Oxford University Press). “Migrants bring their culture with them,” he wrote. Countries that receive them run the risk “that the social model will become blended in such a way that damagingly dilutes its functionality.” This idea has gained more currency in Europe — which until the recent influx from North Africa and the Middle East had experienced comparatively little immigration from poorer nations. But it is getting a hearing in the United States, too, giving shape to an argument that immigration, by bringing inferior norms and culture from abroad, may be eroding American productivity. Mr. Trump’s chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, architect of the administration’s turn against immigration, might be drawn to some of this scholarship. The proposition that immigrants hamper productivity in their newfound homes could make a case for far more restrictive immigration controls than the United States has in place today. “Analogous to climate change, we do not know how large an unabsorbed diaspora would need to be before it significantly weakened the mutual regard on which the high-income societies depend,” Professor Collier wrote.

Bill would take away local control of agritourism

Concord Monitor | Posted on February 16, 2017

Less than a year after legislators approved a bill defining how municipal bodies should treat agritourism, the New  Hampshire Senate is considering another bill that would completely remove local regulation on the issue.  During a Senate Public and Municipal Affairs Committee hearing, the bill’s primary sponsor, Sen. Bob Giuda, argued that the law passed in 2016 didn’t go far enough to protect the commercial interests of farmers.  “We are allowing our local communities ... to define commerce in our state,” he said. “That is not a power we give to our towns and communities.”  Giuda said his proposed amendments to the law were necessary in light of several ongoing lawsuits that pit farmers who want to diversify and host weddings to stay in business against their neighbors who want peace and quiet on the weekend.  “The law is being used against individuals by other individuals because we have not clearly defined what agritourism is or how it operates,” Giuda told the committee last week.