Rural Communities

Recreation, especially in rural areas, draws new residents, higher incomes and faster earnings growth than places without recreation. A companion blog article describes how outdoor recreation can support rural economic development.

A new Rural Capacity Index was created to measure the capacity of local governments — staffing, resources, expertise — for implementing additional investment projects. According to the data gathered, 75% of Midwest communities have low capacity, the most of any U.S. region.

Projects should be designed to achieve one or more of the following: create vibrant public spaces, focus on diversity and inclusion, deliver range of transportation or mobility options, support local recovery form the pandemic through public infrastructure, accessible and affordable housing developments, increase civic engagement and more.
Application cycle typically opens in February. 

The USDA provides grants, low-interest direct loans and/or combinations of the two to develop essential community facilities in rural areas, including public facilities, community support services and local food systems such as community gardens and food hubs. Public entities, nonprofit organizations and tribal entities in rural communities are eligible to apply. 
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

As part of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, the Office of Rural Prosperity seeks to foster vibrant, prosperous and resilient rural communities across Wisconsin. The office aims to be a one-stop shop to help rural stakeholders navigate programs and resources with its online Resource Directory. 

The RERC program provides planning assistance that helps communities identify strategies to grow their outdoor recreation economy and revitalize their Main Streets.

Resources from across the EPA to help communities protect the environment, improve health and strengthen their economies. Topics include brownfields, environmental justice, land revitalization,  smart growth and urban waters

This guide is intended to help rural communities identify resources to help develop their recreation economy.
The guide outlines programs and services available at USDA and other federal departments and agencies that support workforce development in rural communities.​

As part of the ROUTES Initiative the USDOT created the Toolkit to support potential applicants in identifying and navigating USDOT discretionary grant funding opportunities for rural transportation projects. 

Placemaking is a collaborative engagement process that helps leaders from rural communities create quality places where people will want to live, work, visit and learn The toolkit is a dynamic, interactive, media-focused website that provides education, resources, activities and tools on rural placemaking. 

Well-designed and executed events can showcase a community’s outdoor offerings, drawing visitors and attracting spending that creates economic activity. This toolkit is a step-by-step guide for creating a new bike event and can be adapted for other outdoor recreation events.