Chuck Fluharty, president of the Rural Policy Research Institute at the University of Iowa, which focuses on the economic health of rural communities, says small towns don’t depend much on farmers anymore — yet farmers need their struggling rural towns.
Farmers “are worrying about that car dealer, and they’re worrying about that bank, and they’re worrying about the small insurance company, and they’re hoping to God that they don’t lose their school,” he says.
But Fluharty thinks it is possible to revive small towns like Warsaw and keep young people from leaving.
It may sound counter-intuitive, but jobs follow people, he says, rather than the reverse. If people want to live in a place, they’ll inevitably create the economic activity that sustains that community.