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Rural Matters

Feb 24, 2022

In Part II of this six-part series — Living in Rural America, 2022 and Beyond —   produced in collaboration with and supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Michelle chats with three experts on how rural America is dealing with the pandemic and other significant issues. Dr. Don Albrecht, Director of the Western Rural Development Center (WRDC), who has published research on the impact of COVID-19 on rural areas; Patrick Woodie, President of the NC Rural Center; and Karen Jackson, President of Apogee Strategic Partners, LLC, a Virginia firm specializing in developing and implementing technology and innovation strategies and programs. Albrecht discusses: why most rural economies have been stagnant or declining for decades, what thriving rural communities look like, and why per capita COVID-19 deaths in rural America are higher than in urban areas. Woodie details how rural business has fared in North Carolina and the importance of access and funding broadband in rural areas. Jackson describes how there has been influx of rural remote workers during the pandemic (a “silver lining” echoed by the other two guests), as well as how rural areas can position themselves at this time to capitalize on post-COVID opportunities. This episode, and the entire six-part series, is sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation’s largest philanthropy dedicated solely to health. Find out more about the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation at or on Twitter, @rwjf.