Wooing rural students • North Dakota lawyer shortage • Rural hospitals consider their options • Counties coming together to market themselves • Economy stagnate in Midwest and Plains
The University of Illinois is having a hard time recruiting students from rural counties. The number of rural counties sending an average of two or fewer students to UI has fallen from 23 to 13 in the last five years.
Even with the university offering scholarships to 23 “underprivileged” counties, the cost associated sending a kid to college is thought to have a lot to do with the falling numbers (UI is around $25,000/year when it’s all said-and-done). Another factor may be reluctance of some rural students to sit in an English class with more students than their high school. But these are just theories.
Marilyn Marshall, assistant vice president for academic affairs, said, “I think the campuses are out recruiting these students but for whatever reasons we’re not enrolling a lot of students from that area (Jasper County).” How much influence the lagging economy has had on the number of rural students UI is enrolling is “something we need to find out,” said Marshall.
The opposite of recruiting from rural areas is, of course, recruiting TO rural areas. North Dakota is having trouble convincing attorneys hang a shingle in a small town. In the state’s 357 towns, there are only a total of 85 registered law firms, according to INFORUM. That breaks down to 1.3 lawyers per 1,000 residents of rural areas.
“We know there are more lawyers in the state right now, but they’re not moving into small towns,” said Tony Weiler, executive director of the State Bar Association.
Like the old joke goes, “What do you call an average of 2 lawyers per 1,000 people in rural North Dakota? A good start.”
Falling profits for hospitals in rural South Carolina are making administrator consider all their options, reports The (Columbia) State. “If a small hospital is not looking at all its options, it’s not going to survive,” said Michael Williams, CEO of Fairfield Memorial Hospital. “All its options” includes merger, consolidation, affiliation, and cooperation agreements with larger, metro hospitals.
Seven rural North Carolina counties from the Piedmont area are forming a partnership to self-promote their region, with each partner contributing money to the pot. For years, regional partnerships could get money from the state government, but that well is drying up this June. “For rural communities, we depend on those funds for us to have a presence to market our communities,” said Alan Wood, Executive Director of the Stokes County Economic Development Commission. “When that goes away our ability to function in that game goes away. What we are trying to do now is to find a method to replace those funds in some way.”
A survey of bankers paints a none-too-bright picture of 10 Midwest and Plains states. Economist Ernie Goss of Creighton University says there will need to be an increase in commodity prices to get the economy back in shape.