An East Coast university is working to boost farm communities by driving financially and socially-sustainable rural development. Tuesday on the AgriTalk Radio show, Matt McKenna joined host Chip Flory to discuss Georgetown University’s Rural Opportunity Initiative.
“We’re a victim of our own success and by that I mean there’s tons of cash in the country right now and a lot of people looking to invest,” McKenna said. “But it’s much easier to invest in urban areas.”
In many cases while investors are willing to offer up large sums of money in urban areas , more often than not rural investments are limited. In terms of scale, say an investor has an opportunity to invest $5 billion in urban America or $5 million in rural, they’ll often go with the urban investment according to McKenna.
“It’s hard sometimes to get the attention of the larger investors to the smaller, but very important, opportunities that exist in rural America,” he added.
That’s where the Rural Opportunity Initiative comes in. Georgetown has partnered with Purdue, Mississippi State, Iowa State and the Department of Agriculture. Together these groups raise awareness about opportunities in rural America and testify the worth of investing in less populated parts of the country.
“In other words, rather than looking at a one $5 million opportunity, for example, to lend money for rural water systems, why not bundle 20 of these opportunities, 20 loans, and then package it as being an individual investment,” McKenna explained. In recent years the organization saw their strategies work with just under $12 billion dedicated to water systems in rural America.
Learn more about what the group is doing on AgriTalk: