Rural Development Initiative

Department of Sociology
Iowa State University
204 East Hall
Ames, IA 50011





Traditionally, small towns have served as the cultural and socioeconomic hub for Iowa's residents.  In recent years, due to a variety of circumstances, the survival of many of Iowa's rural communities is in question.  Declines in the number of farms and businesses have contributed to a steady out-migration of residents, leaving fewer individuals to address an increasing number of problems.  Recognizing the significance of small towns to Iowa's past and present, a major research effort was initiated in 1994 to assess the social conditions in Iowa's small towns.  The purpose of this project, called the Rural Development Initiative (RDI), was to provide data that would improve the basis for policy decisions to stimulate rural development and community vitality.  This research focused on three main areas:  community quality of life, the local social environment, and community involvement.

The 1994 study provided a baseline assessment of the social conditions in Iowa's small towns.  Since that time, a variety of other projects have been initiated, all supporting the RDI mission.  Researchers have studied small town businesses, community development efforts, the impact of technology on community development, and housing needs, to name a few.  Use the links above to find out more information about the baseline study and related RDI research.  Copies of our technical reports are available in PDF format in the Reports and Publications section.

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