On RFD-TV: Eric Thompson
Eric Thompson, director of the UNL Bureau of Business Research appears live on RFD-TV on Sept. 8, 2020. Thompson talks about results of the Thriving Index. https://news.unl.edu/newsrooms/today/article/index-shows-high-rural-quality-of-life-struggles-in-economic-competitiveness/
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[00:00:00.833]Well, as agriculture continues to cope with COVID-19,
[00:00:03.430]speculation is looming over the status
[00:00:05.550]of a rural communities.
[00:00:06.940]University of Nebraska researchers
[00:00:08.610]have developed the Thriving Index
[00:00:10.390]comparing rural areas to similar regions
[00:00:12.900]across the Upper Midwest.
[00:00:14.430]Director of the UNL Bureau of Business Research
[00:00:17.040]Eric Thompson joins us now.
[00:00:18.910]And Eric thank you very much
[00:00:20.310]for taking the time to chat with us
[00:00:21.670]here this morning we appreciate it.
[00:00:23.240]If you would bring us up to speed of course
[00:00:24.900]on this Thriving Index and what it offers.
[00:00:29.820]Well, the Thriving Index compares
[00:00:31.780]eight rural Nebraska regions
[00:00:33.910]with their peers around the Upper Midwest.
[00:00:37.600]The goal of the Thriving Index
[00:00:39.150]is to benchmark, to compare their growth,
[00:00:42.810]and economic prosperity with their peers around the region.
[00:00:47.670]And specifically we have 47 measures
[00:00:50.240]where we compare things
[00:00:51.550]such as economic growth, economic diversity,
[00:00:54.620]education attainment, demographic renewal,
[00:00:58.070]cost of doing business and quality of life.
[00:01:01.200]So what are some of the findings
[00:01:02.490]of the Thriving Index here in the midst of 2020?
[00:01:07.600]Well, we found that Nebraska regions
[00:01:10.030]tended to be strong in terms
[00:01:12.680]of quality of life compared to their peers,
[00:01:14.800]but they lagged a little bit
[00:01:16.490]in terms of education attainment,
[00:01:19.110]the cost of doing business
[00:01:20.580]and in some cases, infrastructure.
[00:01:23.780]So how can our rural communities
[00:01:25.670]use the information gathered by the Index
[00:01:28.432]and make it applicable?
[00:01:32.940]Well, I think it's important to compare
[00:01:34.640]with your peers at other rural regions
[00:01:37.380]around the upper Midwest,
[00:01:38.550]so it gives you a good overall measure
[00:01:40.980]of how is your economy doing.
[00:01:43.430]If you are at a region
[00:01:44.263]where to find that it was consistently lagging its peers,
[00:01:48.060]It might want to reassess its general approach
[00:01:51.200]to economic development and economic growth.
[00:01:54.410]However, if you're keeping up with your peers
[00:01:56.630]or leading your peers,
[00:01:57.760]we found two parts of the state, the Tri-Cities area,
[00:02:01.680]as well as the Norfolk and Columbus areas
[00:02:05.100]were well ahead of their peers.
[00:02:06.320]In those cases, your economic development strategy
[00:02:08.440]is working fairly well.
[00:02:11.900]Another use is to find those specific measures
[00:02:15.660]where your region seems to be lagging
[00:02:17.790]and try to work on that.
[00:02:18.930]So a lot of Nebraska regions
[00:02:21.490]need to enhance their education attainment,
[00:02:24.570]high school graduation rates,
[00:02:25.610]getting people to attend higher education,
[00:02:28.270]and come back to the region.
[00:02:30.600]So it points out things like that
[00:02:32.700]which you can specifically work on.
[00:02:35.140]It's also useful for practical matters.
[00:02:38.450]Some organizations will use the data
[00:02:41.530]from the Thriving Index as part of their grant applications.
[00:02:45.130]And Eric, taking into account the index this year,
[00:02:48.490]were there may be any surprises
[00:02:50.130]that sort of stuck out to you?
[00:02:52.970]It is a little bit surprising
[00:02:54.190]that results for education attainment,
[00:02:56.160]Nebraska is a state that prides itself on education
[00:02:59.173]has a great history with success and education.
[00:03:02.990]I think what's going on there
[00:03:04.430]is we're comparing ourselves
[00:03:05.580]to a group of other States
[00:03:07.360]that also do really well in terms of education outcomes.
[00:03:11.040]So we're just a little bit behind
[00:03:12.500]that highly successful group.
[00:03:14.690]All right. Well, you can go on
[00:03:15.580]to ruralprosperityne.unl.edu for more information.
[00:03:19.750]Eric, thanks for joining us.
[00:03:20.840]University of Nebraska Lincoln Bureau
[00:03:22.450]of Business Research director,
[00:03:24.140]Eric Thompson, joining us on location in Lincoln.
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