Invest in Rural Community Livability


People live in rural regions for lots of reasons, but for many, it is because they love the land and the rural quality of life. Rural areas offer tremendous benefits, including open space, natural beauty, recreational opportunities, and much more. However, decades of federal and state disinvestment in rural areas have created rural exodus, where people have left rural communities in order to move to cities and suburbs, which has led to further disinvestment.

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State Policy Priorities

  • Create Departments of Rural Prosperity that work to balance economic growth with rural livability and a clean environment.
  • Increase access to and reliability of public transportation.
  • Invest in public recreation and green spaces that promote rural livability while attracting tourism.
  • Pass right to food legislation that gives state residents the unalienable right to grow, produce and consume food of their choice.

State Examples

  • Colorado (2017 CO SB 267) legislators enacted a bill to support local public transportation projects and earmarked one-fourth of the funds for projects in rural counties.
  • In Texas (2021 TX HB 1294), lawmakers introduced legislation to exempt rural transit districts from motor fuel taxes on any fuel used exclusively to provide public transportation.
  • Hawaii (2021 HI SB 1402) lawmakers enacted a bill requiring the development of a plan to modernize the state’s ground transportation system, including prioritizing public mass transportation and establishing a contiguous network of bicycle and pedestrian pathways. The plan must provide equity for all communities and users, in recognition of how inequitable infrastructure investments have exacerbated disparities, particularly in rural areas.
  • North Carolina (2019 NC SB 665) legislators considered the Omnibus Rural Investment Act to increase state matching funds for public recreation projects, such as rural hiking trails for smaller counties.
  • California (2021 CA AB 1177) recently enacted a state-owned public banking option to support community banking, offering a zero-fee and zero-penalty bank account, debit card, and financial services to communities vulnerable to predatory financial institutions.
  • By executive order, Michigan (2022-1 MI) created the Office of Rural Development to coordinate state activities impacting rural areas, including economic and workforce development, infrastructure, public health, and environmental sustainability.
  • By ballot measure, Maine (Maine H.P. 61) adopted an amendment to its constitution that enshrines the unalienable right of every resident to grow, produce, and consume the food of their choice.


Inspired? Ready to dig in on these issues with your rural neighbors? Our practical communications toolkits will help you connect with new communities through common values. The toolkits provide examples on narrative framing, press release templates, sample talking points, and more. 

Click here for the communications toolkit on Investing in Rural Livability.

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