CEO Update: Fairies
Do you believe in fairies or think they are just mythical creatures or legends? Fairies, of course are in many Disney films and the most famous being Tinker Bell. Tinker Bell lived in Neverland among the trees, meadows and water. Neverland sounds a bit like rural Colorado, with our vast amount of open prairie and farmland in the east and our mountains, trees, and streams in the west.
We want to preserve our way of life in rural, so we must continue to work on rural sustainability. One of the key factors to rural sustainability is the preservation of our healthcare system, specifically access to our rural hospitals, rural clinics, nursing home, EMS and public health. In the last year, we’ve learned just how important these resources are and having the resources close to you is key. On average, it costs about $600.00 per person to leave their community to seek care elsewhere. While that might not seem like a lot of money to some, it is everything to others.
The economic gap between urban and rural areas of Colorado has continued to widen since the Great Recession and the uneven recovery continues today. Twenty percent of our rural children live in poverty, with an income of $26,200 for a family of four, compared to eleven percent of urban kids. This is followed by the high cost of healthy food choices in rural with a package of four chicken breasts costing upwards of $12.00, that’s difficult to feed a family affordably. In rural, healthcare is one of the top three employers. If the hospital closes, the town loses access to healthcare locally, there is a loss of jobs and this leads to the dying of the community and innovation that is so prevalent in rural. In order to have rural sustainability we need to start making investments in rural. Investments in healthcare, in schools, in businesses. These investments can start with implementation of broadband, affordable technology and so much more.
It’s a matter of equity between urban and rural. To ensure equity in our rural communities, we need to close pay gaps among urban and rural, ensure rural communities have equal access to broadband, affordable food, housing and technology are great places to start. An investment in rural is key to sustainability and equity.
I’ll leave you with a wish to the Fairy Godmother for an investment in rural for sustainability and equity.