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Types of rural communities
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Types of rural communities

The neutrality of this article is disputed.

Sociologists have identified a number of different types of rural communities, which have arisen as a result of changing economic trends within rural regions of industrial nations.

The basic trend seems to be one in which communities are required to become entrepreneurial. Those that lack the sort of characteristics mentioned below, are forced to either seek out their niche or accept eventual economic defeat. These towns focus on marketing and public relations whilst bidding for business and government operations; such as, off-site data processing or, perhaps, a factory.

For instance; International Falls, Minnesota markets itself as a site for sub-zero temperature experiments; Ottawa, Illinois managed to attract three Japanese firms; Freeport, Maine has become a center for mail-order companies such as L.L. Bean; and Mobile, Arizona has become the home of a number of solid-waste landfills.

Table of contents
1 Academic Communities
2 Area Trade-Centers
3 Exurbs
4 Government Centers
5 Recreation Communities
6 Retirement Communities

Academic Communities

Academic communities are those in which the primary employers are boarding schools, colleges, universities, research laboratories, and corporate training facilities. These communities bring people away from other regions and thus bring new capital into the area.

Academic institutions, in rural areas, are very much like a factory in that the economic success of the community depends upon the success of the institution. Unlike factories, academic institutions tend to primarily offer jobs in the medium-skilled to professional range.

Examples: Ames, Iowa; Bath, Maine; Madison, Wisconsin; Plainfield, Vermont;

Area Trade-Centers

The automobile allows rural residents to travel farther, in less time, for goods and services. This reduces the importance of the rural store, along with decreasing rural population (see: rural exodus). As business relocate from impoverished communities, one town will become the trade center for it's region, sometimes doing so by constructing a mall.

Generally, business in a trade-center town, except for those in competition with the mall, will benefit from the mall's prescence as shoppers spill over. These trade centers will knock out businesses in, and thus impoverish, nearby towns as shoppers converge on the town with the greatest variety of stores.

See: West Burlington, Iowa; Wickenburg, Arizona


See: exurb

Government Centers

Rural regions are undergoing increasing government consolidation. This results in a small number of towns becoming centers of government activity, while the rest are devoid of government infrastructure. These centers include state and local capitals, and areas with prisons or military bases.

Centralized public administration focuses public-sector employment on a single community, assisting it over its neighbors. Benefits, for the government center, include improved public services, increased efficiency, and economic savings.

See: Lorton, Virginia; Quantico, Virginia

Recreation Communities

Recreation communities (tourist towns) define some local feature, usually a historic site or scenic vista, as a "natural resource" and market this to tourists. Travelers will then spend money on food, hotels, and the like, which brings capital into the town.

See: Deadwood, South Dakota; Harper's Ferry, West Virginia;; Tombstone, Arizona; St. Charles, Missouri; Pleasant Hill, Kentucky; Intercourse, Pennsylvania

Retirement Communities

Retirement communities tend to house large numbers of elderly people. These retirees, bring pensions, Social Security, and savings which infuse the area with capital. Rural hospitals are increasingly unable to bring enough patients to support their operational budget, and retirement communities have developed, in some areas, as a means to solve this problem.

It should be noted that elderly residents, who migrate from the cities, tend to have above average wealth, thus creating an income disparity between the migrant retirees and the local elderly.

See: Green Valley, Arizona; Heritage Village, Connecticut

See also: demographic history of the United States, rural sociology, sociology