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Rural communities have long experienced an outmigration of talented people to urban areas for better employment opportunities. The traditional rural economic model, especially prevalent in Appalachia and the rural South, involves outside capital promoting industrial development separated from community needs and culture. This, at worst, is exploitative and, at best, keeps the local economy less diverse and dependent on those outside the community. Globalization has resulted in low-wage, low-skill industrial jobs going abroad, further hurting rural economies. Access to telecommunications technologies and the Internet affords a variety of alternatives to traditional employment situations in geographically rural and minimally populated regions. The least distributed solution to employment opportunities in rural areas is the establishment of local technology centers, to which groups of workers telecommute to perform contracted work for companies located elsewhere. Individual telecommuting is more widespread--companies realize tremendous cost reductions through employee telecommuting, and telecommunications is also an advantage to self-employed rural artisans. For telework to succeed in rural areas, companies must provide training and a supportive climate in which to undertake such radical change. Several examples are given of initiatives for stimulating job growth in rural communities in Europe, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. These examples demonstrate that efforts to develop rural economies cannot be successful without involving community development as well. (Contains 33 references.) (TD)

Descriptors: Community Development, Economic Development, Employment Opportunities, Information Technology, Internet, Job Development, Job Training, Labor Force Development, Low Income Groups, Rural Areas, Rural Development, Telecommunications, Teleworking

AEL, Inc., P.O. Box 1348, Charleston, WV 25325-1348. Tel: 800-624-9120 (Toll Free).

Autor: Burton, John K.; Lockee, Barbara B.


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