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Advisor

Yet another consideration...

...may be a simple equation involving the costs of a higher education.  If a kid has to fund a college degree with student loans, let us say due to the fact that farming or other rural income streams did not permit their parents to save enough to fund the degree, can he/she afford to come home to work at those lower local wages to pay back the load? 

Lisa, you e-commute, and your husband drives a hundred miles a day, so you are an hour from his job.  How close to your rural home could you replace thsoe incomes with ones of even roughly similar salary levels?  (Not asking for your personal information here, just using the facts you gave as an excellent example of the distances we have to go to earn enough for a life.) 

Gee, if you factor in a reasonable cost per mile of 50 cents, it costs $50 a day to make that kind of round trip.  Average work month of four weeks, five days a week, is a thousand bucks. 

Even when you adjust for lower costs of living in most rural areas, if you walk on the scene with enough student loan debt to buy a house there, it is hard to gain traction.  Throw in commuting costs, and it is a no-brainer to live in the city...in fact, it may become the only option. 

The kids we see living close to home here for the most part are blue-collar workers or are from farm families with operations large enough to assimilate them into the business.   There is  another bunch had pretty much never given much consideration to rising out of the muck of entitlement program support.  Multi-generational dependence on social programs is very entrenched here. 

My own daughter complained to me the other day about the people who do not ever pay their property taxes here.  They drag along on a scrap of land in a rusty trailer or shanty, and no one ever requires them to come current on the taxes on their slice of Paradise.   

The only reason I could offer her for "why?" is that it's been accepted that it's cheaper to let them ride the system that way, than to have to provide public housing in sufficient numbers for the indigent.  (This follows my theory of asking "Why NOT?" when there is no sensible answer to "Why?") 

There are all sorts of hidden costs of country living, and supporting other hosueholds that do not support themselves are not a small part of that.  Our property tax bill went up $600 a year about eight years ago, mostly due to the Medicaid local share and some very expensive drugs that were popularized in that timeframe. 

Global companies can find ways to suck money out of even the poorest of local economies.  Walk into any Walmart and see if firsthand, or look at things like that drug bill, and see more subtle drains. 

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Senior Contributor

Re: It has happened for decades

"As an ag teacher, I was able to help 40 students earn their state FFA degree and stay in the community." ... Hymark, I would say that definitely makes you one of the best and brightest! That's fantastic!
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Senior Contributor

Re: Yet another consideration...

Kay, yes, I am very blessed to be able to work from home. The folks at Successful Farming and Living the Country Life have been amazing in supporting me in my choice to stay home with my kids, and letting me continue to do parts of the full-time job I held with them for five years, on a part-time/freelance basis. It's amazing to be able to get paid for work I do from my couch, but the best thing is that I get to be with my kids.

 

Since we rely on my husband for benefits, he has to have a job with insurance. There aren't a lot of opportunities in our area other than in Des Moines that would offer benefits and pay enough, even taking the $ he pays for gas into consideration. He would love to be able to work from home, or to have a job in a smaller town closer than Des Moines. Keep your fingers crossed that something like that will turn up! 

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Senior Contributor

Re: Young people leaving home

I was merely speaking from my own experience. The area has had many manufacturing companies wish to locate. However, many of the city leaders, who also own businesses, make their wishes known that they are not wanted. They're scared that these new companies will raise the local wages so high that the local businesses can't compete for good workers. They welcomed the new WalMart Supercenter though. More ways to send the money from the poor local wages off to China. If the area doesn't want businesses with good wages, why should they expect youth with student loans to come back?

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Advisor

Re: Young people leaving home

If you hear of any of those companies again, please, PLEASE send them to Highland County OH.  We have thousands of unemployed skilled workers who would love to have them relocate here. 

 

Seriously. 

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Veteran Contributor

Re: Young people leaving home

As someone who moved away from her home town to go to school first and foremost and then got married I will share what I seen when I am home to visit.

I see a rundown town that has no grocery store, gas station, or now a cafe.  I see the biggest employer is the elevator and they are looking to shut that down as well.  I see a town that has lost alot of itself in the last few years.  Drugs and minorities have moved in and made the town very trashy in appearance.  To be honest I barely drive into town when I am home anymore and my family farm is 1 3/4 miles away.  I bypass the town now instead of going into town.

I went to high school 7 miles away in a different town and it's been years since I've been there.  I was considered an outsider in my school because I was from a different town and I didn't have the right last name.  Yes, I had some friendly what I call aquantices but I had more friends outside of school due to 4-H then I ever did in school.  I see many classmates on FB and am "friends" on FB with them but that is about all.  I was in FFA but our advisor was terrible.  I learned and got more out of 4-H then I ever did with FFA.  It's a miracle that I even went into Agronomy in college and it wasn't due to FFA. 

I would have loved to have gone home to farm with my dad as he is the last farmer in the family but my father is very traditional and not big on women farming.  I showed him though with my degree and my accomplishments in my profession.  My brother never had a desire to farm so Dad was the last to farm our land.  He has retired now and it's being rented out. 

I know that if I would have stayed around the area I would be working in a dead end job going nowhere but uptown on Sat. night to relive the highschool years which weren't that special in the first place.  I wouldn't have gotten the oppertunities I've had and grown to become the person I am if I hadn't gotten out when I did. 

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Honored Advisor

Re: Young people leaving home

I think many areas want businesses with good wages and benefits, but the competition is so fierce.  There is a whole industry of selling proposals - some of them totally outlandish - to supposedly foster economic development. 

Our county here in NC got a Lowe's distribution center several years ago, mostly due to our location on the I-95 corridor.  Home county in VA got a Walmart one several years before that.  Mostly immigrant labor in both from what I can gather.  I have nothing against that, but what did the developments really accomplish for employment of the existing population, if a whole new one had to move in to staff these places?

The saddest nearby example is this one, from the county just across the Roanoke River from here:

http://www.wral.com/news/local/story/7189041/

 

 

 

This story is several months old,, and the situation has not generally improved, from what we hear.  This was originally the Randy Parton Theater, and cost the county $22 million.  Meanwhile, the county's schools are guilty of such poor performance, the state took them over about three years ago.  That was after five years of effort to improve performance, and was the first time a jodge had been forced to enact this power. 

This was pitched as "the next Branson."  At the time it was being proposed, Branson was giving away tickets to shows, just to get tourists to rent rooms and eat in restuarants...so, basically a failed business model now. 

Va county is being lured into building a shell building to gain business influx...but in my zoning/planning studies, I have learned that such shell structures are generally not well considered, and many sit empty.  The taxes on it, if taken over by a going concern, would take the county in escess of 125 YEARS to regain, so WHAT IS THE POINT, except for someone to make money building the thing?????

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Senior Contributor

Re: Young people leaving home

You have aptly described the decline of rural America. Many people feel that when a school closes, the end of the town has started.

Almost twenty years ago, I was in France with a Ag Leadership group and we also hosted some French students in our home. The students told how the rural people had mostly left the rural areas to work in the cities since there were not jobs at home and how they kept their homes and roots by returning home on week-ends. They also told how the French people were mostly Catholic but only at Christmas and Easter.

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Honored Advisor

Re: Young people leaving home

I sometimes wonder if we couldn't point to the move to centralizing schools (at least high schools) as a precipitating factor, a cause rather than effect, of this decline.  Adults just slightly older that us in our county back home, who would now be those over sixty, would be the last generation to have attended  the traditional high schools and fueled their rivalries, which carried over into every aspect of life there then. 

Manureseller's description of her high school years was so sad to me.  I look back at high school as a really great time of my life in so many respects.  Home life was hard then, so school was my place to escape and be more myself. 

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Senior Contributor

Re: Young people leaving home

Gosh, I find this thread kind of depressing.  Especially since I'm going to meet 4 of my former classmates for lunch!  We get together about once a month or so.  Yes, we do relive some of our memories but we also share our current lives with each other.

I agree with the decline/struggle of small towns but I also see many new faces moving into the area and working elsewhere.  I personally know of 2 families who the father commuting to Chicago for their jobs.  One fellow takes the train & stays there for a night if needed; the other drives it.  They moved here because of the taxes & wanting to raise their kids in a small town.  Neither were from this area.  There are more but I don't know their stories.

My oldest son is a game warden who came back here after college.  He & his wife wanted the same thing for their families.  I can think of 6 of his classmates who did the same.  One relocated here from San Diego after he got out of the Navy.  My neice is in corporate at JD at Des Moines; she is looking to try & transfer back closer to home & driving.  The daycare there is terribly expensive.  My other neice's DH just got on with JD as a foreman & will drive 50 M. gladly. 

The next largest town (Princeton, IL) is also struggling & the downtown area has a lot of empty stores.  But the industrial park they have at the interstate area has several employers (plus a Super WM) one of which is an Ace distribution center.  The "old" section of town is actually nearer I-80 & has it's storefronts full with 4 new restaurants coming in.  (don't know if they'll all make it but it's a tasty trial for the rest of us) Kewanee, IL is the same distance from us but is not near the interstate & never tried to cultivate any new businesses there when they were "looked" at.  Not so great there.

I guess I'm trying to be optimistic about all this.  Yes, you don't see a lot of kids returning to farming.  I know dairying has changed so much-we simply don't have the landbase etc. to compete & milk hundreds of cows & have employees.  (There are a lot of hispanics in another town who would love a job)  I can't say for farming in general, but it's sure great to see those few who do come back with fresh ideas.

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