Speak Your Piece: Dangers of Economic Isolation

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What are the economic costs to remaining isolated from a nation that is growing more diverse?


A message from the Rural Assembly

“We all know that economic development is about building relationships,” says Paul Lasley, chairman of the sociology and anthropology departments at Iowa State University. “If we do not have the ability to build relationships, we are going to be disadvantaged.”

An expert on rural issues, Lasley is urging students to look at the imminent changing of the colors in the U.S. population as an opportunity. “I have been telling students at ISU for years that unless they have a second language they are going to find themselves increasingly disadvantaged,” Lasley said.

In particular, rural Iowans with agricultural interests should heed this advice as it can benefit trading opportunities. 

“Companies need folks who are conversant in either Spanish or Chinese,” Lasley said.

I asked Lasley if largely white rural communities like Carroll were in jeopardy of losing business and jobs and opportunities simply because we can’t relate or connect to a new world that won’t look like ours.

Not so fast, Lasley said. Money still talks. Lasley expects that in the future the divide in America will be less about race than education and income levels.

“Skin color is going to become less important. But social class may become more important,” Lasley said. “I see that among young people.”


A message from the Rural Assembly