Tech jobs could be start of rural revitalization

The U.S. House Select Committee on the Economy met Thursday to discuss rural economic revitalization.

The founder of the Center on Rural Innovation, Matt Dunne, testified before the committee saying rural communities have the potential for healthy and diverse economies.

“It’s not going to take as many folks that are out there running combines when those can be automated,” Dunne said. “So, we need to make sure that there are also other kinds of jobs that are the fruits of automation, rather than just impacted by automation.”

He said rural America has room for strong tech and software development job growth.

“And it doesn’t have to have, you know, hundreds of thousands of those jobs,” Dunne said. “All tech jobs don’t have to be in rural [areas] and all rural jobs don’t have to be tech; but it can be a piece of it.”

Dunne said zoom has helped make working remotely from rural communities more viable as broadband access expands, but…

“We don’t believe that ‘zoomtown’ is the solution,” he said. “Even as some people have moved to rural places and brought their jobs with them, because ‘zoomtown’ is not community.”

The discussion was led by U.S. Representative Angie Craig of Minnesota. U.S. Representatives Bryan Steil of Wisconsin and Jim Himes of Connecticut also participated.

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