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Explore our research into the unique challenges and opportunities that face small towns and rural areas.

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March 11, 2024

From quaint storefronts offering a variety of gourmet peanuts to sprawling farms where generations have perfected their craft, this area has solidified its spot as an important part of Virginia’s agricultural economy thanks to its continued commitment to one of America’s favorite legumes. But as our Community Conversations team learned on a recent trip to Southeastern Virginia, the pull between maintaining a rural, small town feel and embracing the potential benefits of urbanization hangs in the balance.

Feb. 21, 2024

Western North Carolina is known for stunning mountain views, the eclectic tourist hotspot Asheville, and the opulent former residency of the Vanderbilts, the Biltmore Estate. But, as our Community Conversations team learned as they traveled an hour west of Asheville to places like Jackson County and the Qualla Boundary, Western North Carolina is also home to a strong sense of community, resiliency and innovation.

Jan. 24, 2024

Workforce development was a major topic of conversation when Matt Martin and Erika Bell recently met with business and community leaders in Pickens County and Oconee County, South Carolina. In this episode, Martin and Bell discussed what they learned during their visit. Two local workforce development leaders — Jeromy Arnett and Ray Farley of Alliance Pickens — also shared their stories.