Publication Date



The Center for Economic Development at the University of Massachusetts, in Amherst, is part of the Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning Department, and is funded by the Economic Development Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce, and the University of Massachusetts.


Rural areas have been experiencing a transition in their economic and social structure. Traditional industries such as agriculture, manufacturing, and resource extraction have been declining. The result has been a displacement of labor in rural areas and instability within rural economies. Upwards of three quarters of rural counties have experienced outmigration in the last decade. Per capita income in rural areas is only two-thirds that of their urban counterparts, and rural poverty rates exceed those in urban areas. Rural areas have traditionally considering how the quality of their education, health, and government services can be incorporated into their overall development plans. Since the 1980s, however, another factor has become increasingly important; telecommunications technology and its applications.

Telecommunications technology has grown to include interactive voice, data, video connections, personal computers, modems, and the internet. These technologies are increasingly important in a society which is more information dependent. With the onset of the information age telecommunications has taken on an important role in the competitive advantage of almost all sectors in society; manufacturing, education, health care, and government. In the area of industrial and economic development understanding how the information age impacts businesses is very important for successful planning.


Section 4: Pages 1-14