Workforce is a Rural Challenge

illustration by Mars Manderico of adults and students working with hammers and nails

The Survey of Rural Challenges is now available through the end of May for you to share your rural challenges and assets! Results will be shared on January 1, 2025.

One of the top 5 challenges consistently over the years is Workforce. Let’s take a look at just one of the challenges in the category.

CHALLENGE: Need more young people

You said in the 2023 survey:

  • Potential employees are very limited. How do I weed out the unreliables?

  • Lack of employee base – we have a very low unemployment rate

  • It’s almost impossible to get reliable help (workers, labor) for our small business (seasonal, PT)

  • Our community is purposeful about encouraging our youth to come back.   We have a variety of commerce that attracts blue- & white-collar positions – but we desperately need workers to fulfill community business succession plans NOW.

  • Rural western Kansas community population is aging toward 30-40% over age 65. The crisis has already arrived & workers are hard to find.

A few resources that address this challenge:  

Are you Zoom town ready?

Successful towns attract remote workers by providing co-working and alternative workspaces. They also make more of the internet service you already have by improving public wifi coverage. Can you offer financial incentives? Begin building a community of remote workers. Learn more in this 31-minute video about Getting Remote Work Ready.

What are your existing local career engagement tactics? 

Try a Blue Collar Career Fair, working with at-risk students and creating hands-on experience opportunities.

What you can do to help create young entrepreneurs, encouraging and supporting young entrepreneurs.

Who are your newcomers?

Do you know who’s moved to town? They bring with them technology, a large network of professional friends and their families.

We’ve heard from over 1,700 people telling us their challenges (and assets) and we look forward to hearing from you this year.


Illustration by Mars Manderico and will be in my new book expected sometime this year. From Possibilities to Reality: Save Your Small Town with these Uniquely Do-able Ideas, Projects, and Success Stories 

Receive email updates on the progess and when it will be available