A collection of news items about research conducted at the Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development.

New study examines importance and unique characteristics of U.S. female farmers

March 1, 2021

While women can be drawn into farming for many reasons, NERCRD researchers have found that female-owned farms in the U.S. are more common in areas that are closer to urban markets, that engage in agritourism activity, and that offer greater access to childcare.

Pennsylvanians are experiencing hunger at highest levels since onset of pandemic

February 18, 2021

At the end of 2020, more than 12% of Pennsylvania households were experiencing hunger — the highest rate since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to NERCRD researchers. Their report confirms anecdotal and media reports and highlights the role that community resources, such as food pantries and free school lunches, are playing in the state.

NERCRD researchers develop new tool for visualizing vulnerabilities in supply chains

February 11, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically exposed the economic vulnerability of U.S. businesses, primarily because they are so interconnected: when one region experiences a labor shortage or supply interruption, adverse effects reverberate throughout the global economy. Researchers at NERCRD and the Korea Rural Economic Institute have developed a model to help visualize the interconnectedness of businesses and industries over geographic space, which potentially can show supply-chain vulnerabilities to future shocks, such as pandemics or climate-change impacts.

New project to explore models for connecting healthcare organizations with local agricultural producers

December 7, 2020

NERCRD is participating in a one-year project aimed at identifying a sustainable model for connecting regional healthcare organizations with local communities and agricultural producers. The project is funded jointly by the Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences and College of Medicine.

New research briefs explore facets of rural innovation

August 27, 2020

We have added two new research briefs to our "Innovation Issues" series. One brief describes research on how businesses use of different sources of knowledge and creativity drive their innovation activities. Another focuses on the relationship between innovation and knowledge management—how businesses acquire new knowledge and integrate technologies to help them apply it.

NERCRD partners on resource hub for local food-system response to COVID-19

August 26, 2020

NERCRD is partnering with University of Kentucky and Colorado State University in a one-year Cooperative Agreement with the United States Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Marketing Service, to research the impacts, adaptations and innovations of COVID-19 on U.S. Local and Regional Food Systems.

Researchers to create a roadmap for fostering successful agritourism enterprises

July 10, 2020

A team of researchers led by a Penn State agricultural economist will receive $500,000 over three years to study agritourism in the United States and to develop research-based information and guidance for farmers looking to diversify their incomes through agritourism activities.

For small and minority farmers, networks influence the bottom line

June 3, 2020

In a study looking at the social networks of small-scale and minority specialty-crop farmers in Tennessee, Maryland, and Delaware, farmers who played a more prominent role in their network reported greater sales. The findings can help farming groups and agricultural support organizations leverage networks to enhance the farmers’ success.

NERCRD COVID-19 Issues Briefs explore pandemic in multiple contexts

May 28, 2020

The NERCRD has produced a series of issues briefs in response to the COVID-19 crisis, designed to provide information quickly or stimulate discussion. The briefs released so far explore the virus in the context of direct farm sales, the fruit and vegetable industry, consumer spending and sourcing, network science, and regional science. More briefs are planned, and will be shared as they are published.

Newly published NERCRD research examines rural innovation, expansion of hop production, and community influence on longevity

March 14, 2020

Three recently published studies explore how often-overlooked innovation is taking place in areas not thought of as innovative; how the craft-beer boom is giving way to an unprecedented expansion of hop production; and, how community factors might influence longevity. The papers were published in Research Policy, Journal of Wine Economics, and Social Science and Medicine and were authored by researchers from NERCRD, the Korea Rural Economic Institute, West Virginia University, Michigan State University, and The University of Toledo.

Community factors influence how long you’ll live, study shows

March 13, 2020

While lifestyle choices and genetics go a long way toward predicting longevity, a new study shows that certain community characteristics also play important roles. American communities with more fast food restaurants, a larger share of extraction industry-based jobs, or higher population density have shorter life expectancies, according to researchers from Penn State, West Virginia, and Michigan State Universities. Their findings can help communities identify and implement changes that may promote longer lifespans among their residents.

Craft-beer boom linked to record-number of US states growing hops

January 6, 2020

Craft breweries aren't just a fun place to meet up with friends. They may be fueling an unprecedented geographic expansion of hop production across the U.S., according to researchers at Penn State and The University of Toledo. Their findings suggest that as more craft breweries emerge around the country, so may new opportunities for farmers.

Innovation is widespread in rural areas, not just cities

January 6, 2020

Conventional measures of innovation suggest that only big cities foster new ideas, but a more comprehensive measure developed at the Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development shows that innovation is widespread even in rural places not typically thought of as innovative. This "hidden" innovation brings economic benefits to businesses and communities, according to researchers, whose findings will help decision makers think in new ways about innovation and how they can support it.

New method of analyzing networks reveals hidden patterns in data

September 12, 2019

A new way of measuring how relationships in a network change over time can reveal important details about the network, according to researchers at the Northeast Regional Center and the Korean Rural Economic Institute. For example, when applied to the world economy, the method detected the greatest amount of network change during 2008-09, the time of the global financial crisis.

Location, location, location: Where and how do food hubs flourish?

July 29, 2019

For a new food hub to succeed, it should be located in a community with a population sufficient to sustain it, according to a team of economists, who found that a county seeking to establish its first food hub needs roughly 182,000 residents for that food hub to break even. Their findings could help funding agencies establish criteria to determine whether and where new food hubs should be added.

Promoting economic resilience in Appalachia: Lessons from successful communities

May 8, 2019

The Appalachian communities that enjoyed persistent economic growth following the 2008 Great Recession have a number of factors in common, according to researchers who analyzed all 420 counties in the Appalachian region. Their findings will help guide future economic development strategies across Appalachia.

Study of Northeast food system advances understanding of regional potential

October 23, 2018

After seven years of analyzing a number of consumption, distribution, production, and other aspects of the Northeast U.S. food system, researchers from Penn State and 10 other universities and organizations have made significant gains in understanding the extent to which the region can increase production of certain foods, and potentially better meet the food needs of low-income populations in the locations they studied. Findings and outputs from the project, which concluded earlier this year, will be useful to food system planners, policy makers, researchers and advocates interested in advancing regional food systems.

R&D-heavy firms thrive in diverse economies

October 22, 2018

Companies that invest heavily in research and development are more likely to benefit from locating near dissimilar businesses, while companies that invest less in technology are better off near businesses in their own industry, according to new research by a team of economists. The findings can help business owners and policy makers design better business strategies and economic policies.

Rural and urban communities need different policies to boost economic mobility

October 21, 2018

The farther away from a city a person is raised, the more likely they are to climb the economic ladder, according to economists, who also found that community characteristics associated with upward mobility actually have different effects in rural and urban locations.

Poor mental health days may cost the economy billions of dollars

October 20, 2018

Poor mental health ranks as one of the costliest forms of sickness for U.S. workers and may sap billions of dollars from the country's income growth, according to a team of researchers including Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development staff.

$500,000 grant to focus on how rural innovation happens, how to inspire more

July 12, 2018

A research team led by Northeast Center Director Stephan Goetz will receive $500,000 over three years to study innovation in rural communities and find ways for communities to support rural entrepreneurs.

Happiness helps football players do better, and it could help economies too

July 11, 2018

World Cup football teams with a higher proportion of players smiling in their official portraits have scored more goals on average in all group phases since 1970. The authors of this study argue that smiling is a reflection of confidence. Greater confidence results in a greater capacity to overcome complex situations and score more goals. Center Director Stephan Goetz and his colleague David A. Fleming-Muñoz decided to explore whether this same smiling-creativity link holds for entire societies by looking at the relationship between happiness and creative capacity. (Links to article published in The Conversation.)

Hot off the presses: Several newly published NERCRD analyses available online

July 2, 2018

From entrepreneurs' use of Twitter to the impacts of a popular Extension program, several newly published manuscripts co-authored by NERCRD staff shed light on a wide range of community and economic development topics.

Investing in public education earns high marks for greater upward mobility

March 29, 2018

Investing in education may help boost economic opportunities for the next generation, according to a team of economists including Northeast Center Director Stephan Goetz.

Economic status of rural America in the President Trump era explored in newly published Center research

February 23, 2018

A paper titled "The Economic Status of Rural America in the President Trump Era and beyond" was published this month in a special issue of Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy and was authored by Center Director Stephan Goetz, Mark Partridge (Ohio State University), and Heather Stephens (West Virginia University). The special issue is a collection of papers around the theme “The Future of Agricultural and Applied Economics,” and is the culmination of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association Agenda and Priorities initiative. The authors review the current economic conditions of rural America and the current literature, in order to set the stage for future research aimed at developing public policies that support economic prosperity in rural areas.