Manufacturing provides jobs and income that individuals, families, and communities in rural areas rely upon. In this study, rural manufacturing plant survival during a 15-year period (1996- 2011), which includes two recessions and a longstanding decline in manufacturing employment, is examined. An indepth survey, the 1996 ERS Rural Manufacturing Survey, is linked to quar - terly employment records so that the relationship between survival and plant- and community- level factors can be examined. Results suggest that smaller, independent manufacturing plants had higher survival rates than larger plants and multi-unit plants, such as branch plants. Results offer potential insights into rural economic development policy, like tradeoffs between retention incentives, financial capital access programs, or support for entrepreneurship development.