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Re-writing the Rural Narrative:The Brain Gain of Rural America - Vilas County EDC & Ben Winchester

Additional Files
PDF: Rewriting The Rural Narrative Presentation Slides by Ben Winchester

Featured Speaker: Ben Winchester, Senior Research Fellow at the U of MN Extension, Center for Community Vitality & Nationally-recognized expert featured on PBS and in the NY Times.

Something is Happening in Rural America.  

“If small towns are dying, then why can’t I find a new house to buy?”

The headlines can be disparaging about rural America. It is often much more apparent - or visual when a hardware or grocery store closes in a small town or we see the loss of 18-year-olds who leave their small towns after high school.  

The Vilas County Economic Development Corporation is at the forefront of Wisconsin’s Northwoods initiatives to grow its economy and population, supporting current data and socio-economic trends that the rural “narrative” is changing. . . for the better.  Those moving into rural communities offset and surpass the numbers of those moving way.

Since the 1970s there’s been a “rural rebound”. This emerging trend has seen a growing number of people moving from urban to rural living. Now, with the Covid-19 pandemic, economic uncertainty, and social unrest this trend is accelerating, particularly in highly sought after vacation destinations like Vilas County. 

Join us as Ben explores how the population shift is supported by increasing broadband access, the benefits of working remotely, changing work practices, slower place of life, safety and security, and lower costs of living and housing - thus the “Brain Gain” of 30 to 49-year-olds moving to rural America.  

“No-one is moving to small towns for pity. They are moving for what you are, and, more importantly, will be.” ~ Ben Winchester

For more information contact Kathy Schmitz, Executive Director, Vilas County Economic Development, at [email protected] 

Want to learn why Vilas County is one of the best places to live, work, and play?

We can email you a PDF highlighting many of the wonderful aspects of our area: