Posted: June 30, 2018

In 2016, NERCRD Technical Advisory Committee Chair Paul Gottlieb launched a strategic planning effort on the Center's behalf aimed at understanding the economic development issues that are especially important to the rural areas of the Northeast. Last month, he took this effort on the road, sharing his findings at the National Association of Community Development Extension Professionals (NACDEP) annual conference in order to garner feedback from state-based experts.

Gottlieb, an associate professor of agricultural, food, and resource economics at Rutgers University, said that a particular focus of this effort was getting the geography right.

"Traditional economic benchmarking misses the geographic areas that the Regional Rural Development Centers are concerned with," Gottlieb said. "We're interested in the rural portions of multi-state regions with similar agricultural economies and challenges, and in cross-state comparisons of rural portions of states within the region."

To achieve this, Gottlieb and his co-author, Rutgers Undergraduate Student Sean Gilbert, used zip-code business pattern data and matched it to the U.S. Census classifications of urbanized and non-urbanized sections of the states. Using this approach, they determined how employment has changed in the Northeast's rural and urban places and explored trends in traditionally rural sectors, such as agriculture and mining.

If you are a Northeast-based economist or rural development practitioner interested in reviewing the data and providing context to the findings, please email: