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Main streets of tomorrow : growing and financing rural entrepreneurs : a conference summary


  • Mark Drabenstott
  • Nancy Novack
  • Bridget Abraham


Entrepreneurship is the new focal point for rural development. This was the consensus of 200 rural policy officials and experts who gathered in Kansas City on April 28-29 for the fourth annual rural policy conference hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City’s Center for the Study of Rural America. For much of the past half century, rural development has been driven by twin incentives aimed at business recruitment and retention. This strategy is no longer working so well, however, for one simple reason—globalization. In a global marketplace, lower cost business sites abound, making rural incentives much less effective. Now, more and more rural regions are turning their attention to the “third leg of the development tool”—growing more businesses on Main Street. The new focus is long overdue, participants agreed, and has great promise for boosting rural economic growth.> Making entrepreneurship the new focus of rural policy will not be easy. Entrepreneurship cannot offer a quick fix since businesses take time to grow. That runs counter to the short-term focus of elected officials. Existing entrepreneurship programs do not offer a systematic approach to future business innovation and may need to be overhauled; yet there is still much information needed on which programs work best in which rural regions. Many rural entrepreneurs lack sufficient equity capital, but there is little consensus on what policy can do to fill the gap.> Despite these challenges, most conference participants agreed that rural policies built around entrepreneurship offer the greatest chance of helping rural regions. Key to adopting such policies, however, will be a concerted effort to better understand the links between entrepreneurship and regional economies, to inform policymakers of these benefits, and to develop a more systematic approach to supporting the unique needs of rural entrepreneurs.

Suggested Citation

  • Mark Drabenstott & Nancy Novack & Bridget Abraham, 2003. "Main streets of tomorrow : growing and financing rural entrepreneurs : a conference summary," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Q III, pages 73-85.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedker:y:2003:i:qiii:p:73-85:n:v.88no.3

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    Cited by:

    1. Batabyal, Amitrajeet A., 2012. "Project financing, entrepreneurial activity, and investment in the presence of asymmetric information," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 115-122.

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    Rural development ; Rural areas;


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