A prior post painted a grim picture of the prospects of reinvigorating rural areas in the U.S. Now Ellen Rosen, a free-lance journalist on business and finance, has a more optimistic view in two articles in the New York Times.
Offering More Perks to New Workers
Starting with the same problem discussed in the earlier post—manufacturers’ difficulty in finding new workers–Rosen illustrates how two companies combat that problem.
Alexandria Industries in Alexandria, Minnesota (a town of 13,000 population in the west central part of the state) offers a free health clinic within a block of its facility and requires employees to work at least eight hours of overtime per month
Wigwam Mills in Sheboygan, Wisconsin (a town of 49,000 population on the west shore of Lake Michigan, 50 miles north of Milwaukee) offers cash bonuses to employees who bring in new recruits who last at least 60 days and provides wi-fi enabled buses for employees in nearby larger cities.
Other incentives elsewhere include:waiver of state taxes to persons who relocate to rural areas for four years; relief from state and local taxes for businesses that relocate to distressed areas for at least four or five years;; assistance to employees on repayment of student loans; payments to people who relocate to a state and who work remotely for a business located elsewhere; and on-site day care.
Economic Factors Affecting businesses in Rural Areas
Cheaper labor is often seen as an advantage for firms in rural areas. But sometimes, rural labor costs are equivalent or higher to induce people to relocate, and labor costs may represent a smaller portion of total costs of manufacturing a product.
Other relative costs of real estate, energy and taxes affect location of a business. Proximity to suppliers or customers may be important, especially for those dealing with perishable products. Costs of transportation and proximity to transportation hubs may be important.
 Rosen, Manufacturers Increase Efforts to Woo Workers to Rural Areas, N.Y. Times (Aug. 3, 2018). This article was reprinted in a special “Technology” section of the hard copy of the December 16 Sunday Times.
 Rosen, For Manufacturers, a Complex Mix Can Determine Location, N.Y. Times (July 17, 2018). This article was reprinted in a special “Technology” section of the hard copy of the December 16 Sunday Times.