Rural Iowa Today and Tomorrow

April 12, 2019 | Empowering rural Iowa Steve Cassabaum, MSPT, DPT, 21st Century Rehab,

I asked a 29-year-old who returned to his hometown what he thought was going right in rural Iowa and what still needs improvement. Scott Henry of Longview Farms in Nevada mentioned that part of the future entails whether his generation and the ones to follow will stay or return to rural Iowa.

His choice was made easy because the family farm was the opportunity he desired, but he worried that his wife—from the city—would not be happy. Fortunately, Jessica, an attorney, has embraced rural Iowa and loves working in downtown Nevada and getting involved with the community.

Programs like the Iowa Economic Development Authority’s Main Street Iowa and Iowa Farm Bureau’s Renew Rural Iowa are likely responsible for getting businesses and individuals like Jessica to embrace rural Iowa. These programs may also help the ag-tech companies that Scott knows are staying in Iowa to be further enticed to look more rural, further benefiting communities by setting up shop on their main streets.

Additionally, as farm operations merge, he is seeing family farms like his and others offering improved benefits (health, retirement, etc.), which makes a career in farming a better option and helps expand the workforce available.

High-speed fiber is probably the biggest need now and for the future, as such a small percentage of rural communities have access to this necessity. Thank you to Gov. Reynolds, who recently announced that $1.3 million in grants will be made available for fiber in underserved areas through the state’s Office of the Chief Information Officer for 2019. Due to fiber’s high cost of infrastructure, this is a great start.