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Small Towns All Over Texas Look For Solutions To Survive

As Texas cities reap the benefits of the state’s strong economy, many rural communities are lagging behind. An upcoming statewide conference will focus on ideas that could help those small towns thrive.

Abandoned barn in southeast Texas

Albert Salgado directs the South-West Texas Border Small Business Development Center Network. He said one of the big reasons rural communities are losing population is that farming is becoming more automated.

"Most of our communities are agricultural based," explained Salgado. "And then when you look at the mechanization of farming obviously there's a lot of job displacement."

So when people leave to find work elsewhere things start to dry up.

"While programs and resources and funding are available to more of the urban side of things, a lot of these things are not offered or available to the rural communities," added Salgado.

Salgado said some small communities are poised to bring in new industries. But others are coping with the reality that they probably won't see much growth in the future.

"Not every community will be able to come up with a grand plan to grow," said Salgado. "They may come up with a plan to stay where they are, improve the quality of life, look at their schools, look at their health, and try to just improve what they have on the ground."

Salgado said one strategy is for rural communities to band together on regional economic development efforts. That's one of the topics they'll discuss at a conference next month in New Braunfels known as the Texas Rural Challenge.

The conference is July 16 and 17 at the New Braunfels Civic Center.

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Gail Delaughter

Gail Delaughter

Transportation Reporter

From early-morning interviews with commuters to walks through muddy construction sites, Gail covers all aspects of getting around Houston. That includes walking, driving, cycling, taking the bus, and occasionally flying. Before she became transportation reporter in 2011, Gail hosted weekend programs for Houston Public Media. She's also covered courts in...

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