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Report Highlights Role of Rural Development Hubs in Strengthening America’s Rural Innovation Structure

Rural Development Initiatives is proud to be a Rural Development Hub in the Pacific Northwest, and a key contributor to the new Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group (CSG) report focused on organizations working to strengthen America’s rural innovation structure.

What Are Rural Development Hubs?

RDI was one of 43 organizations interviewed this year by CSG as part of their research that identified “Rural Development Hubs” as organizations innovatively leading the way to a new, inclusive vision of the future for rural America. This research was compiled into a report and includes findings that indicate hubs play a catalytic and transformative role in their regions and communities.

Hubs are at the heart of advancing a fresh approach to community and economic development in rural places – agile, enterprising, cross-issue organizations that are taking on tasks and building capacity to do whatever needs to be done to improve equity and prosperity for rural people, place, and economies in their regions. As all Rural Development Hubs are, RDI is a place-based organization working hand-in-hand with people and organizations within and across a region to build inclusive wealth, increase local capacity, and create opportunities for better livelihoods and well-being. 

What Sets Rural Development Hubs Apart?

Among a myriad of findings, the research surfaced 12 traits that set Rural Development Hubs apart, including using a regional approach and taking the long view, with an unwavering commitment to their communities. Hubs utilize an approach that emphasizes people, local institutions, and systems thinking, an approach vital to small towns and rural communities that often lack the resources and infrastructure present in urban centers. 

The questions that motivated this inquiry are questions RDI has been addressing through our work to strengthen rural people, places, and economies in the Pacific Northwest over the last 27 years. We are humbled to be a Rural Development Hub, and we strive every day to live up to what it means to identify and adapt to the role we can play to catalyze rural vitality.

We are grateful to the Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group for elevating the voice of rural America through creating this report with support from the Robert Wood Johnson FoundationClick here to access an electronic version of the full report on the Aspen Institute website; click here to read an executive summary. We believe this is essential work shining a light on the critical role of hubs in rural development. We encourage you to read the report and hope you share its recommendations with your networks. 

“We must do economic differently. We must make bold moves to shift our economy away from inequitable extraction of resources and towards a collective, inclusive vision of the future.” 
– Heidi Khokhar, Executive Director, Rural Development Initiatives