In recent travels to the Midwest, I’ve painfully noticed the toll of the recent resurgence in urbanization as well as the current recession in the United States. The empty buildings and houses made many of the small towns I grew up around seem ghostly. I have a lot of family and friends that continue to live in these rural areas and I hate to think they’d be forced to move while the cities seem to be getting bigger and bigger.
From time to time, I think about ways to help rural areas. Many of these towns were once supported by the previously lucrative agriculture industry, then moved to the previously lucrative manufacturing plants. Now many of the plants have shut down or scaled back on their labor requirements. The concept of working virtually came to my mind, but I didn’t bother exploring it much. I have doubts on the success of this general idea to drive growth in rural areas without anything further driving it. However, I was pleasantly surprised to read this article on ruralsourcing today from my friends at PSFK.
The idea of ruralsourcing is simple. Instead of outsourcing jobs to lower-cost workers in a different country, send them to rural areas of our own country to save money. Typically, these rural areas have a lower cost of living than their urban counterparts and hence receive lower salaries.
The article shows Onshore Technology Services and CrossUSA as companies that provide ruralsourcing solutions. They recruit workers from mid-sized cities with lower living costs and train them to handle jobs for their clients.
The benefit for companies to hire these lower cost workers may be that additional element needed to help drive working virtually in the Midwest. Now, people who enjoy living in areas where crime rates are lower, 5:00 traffic jams are unheard of, and wildlife is more abundant have additional resources to help them find the right job. As these people earn more money, they spend more money in their local communities and these towns have a new hope for coming back to life.