Cities Coming Back on the Great Plains


The main street in downtown Newell, South Dakota.
Sean wrote earlier about how people are moving back to the cores of mid-sized US cities like Cleveland; a similar trend is happening on the Great Plains. The population has been declining in rural areas; some counties in North Dakota lost two thirds for their population. Rural areas continue to grapple with young people leaving and old people dying, but some communities are thriving. "There's enormous change taking place because of the Internet and information technology," says Eric John Abrahamson, a fellow at the Institute for Applied Economics and the Study of Business Enterprise at Johns Hopkins University who lives in Rapid City. "It's affecting the Great Plains and all of rural America."Abrahamson is documenting what he believes is a growing trend of people moving to rural areas because the Internet allows them to work wherever they want to live:

• "New homesteaders," who have no connection to the area other than liking it.

• "Prodigal children," who are born and reared in rural areas, leave for jobs but return.

• "Connected agrarians," farmers and ranchers who would have had to take a job in town to supplement their incomes but have found ways to make money via the Internet, such as call centers. ::USA Today