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The increasingly rapid changes in the world marketplace are having significant effects on all regional economies, creating both challenges and opportunities. The challenges for rural economies have been especially pronounced. Rural economies rely on low land and labor prices for their competitiveness, with commodity agriculture and manufacturing as their economic foundations. Globalization is introducing the possibility of much lower input costs for commodity production, leading to a steadily deteriorating competitive position for these traditional rural industries. Agriculture continues this transition after a particularly sharp series of contractions in the 1980’s; rural manufacturing plants are arguably going through their most difficult transition phase. Neither can be the easy, natural, longer-term economic foundation for the rural economy in the future.


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