"It's not just about historical preservation or farming, but also the Mayberry mentality – that ultimately people do enjoy these small towns," says Chad Adams, director of the Center for Local Innovation in Raleigh, N.C. "It's a golden opportunity for small-town America."Waterfront Media sort of fits this mold, although it seems that most of their high paying jobs are in NYC while we get the customer service phone bank. And let's not overlook Berkshire Biodiesel in Pittsfield. It wouldn't shock me if someday this incredibly well connected company is a huge global player in the renewable fuels game.
Three trends are fueling growth in some rural areas, says Bill Gillis, director of the Center to Bridge the Digital Divide in Spokane, Wash. Mobile dot-commers with "golden Rolodexes" are launching tech-based companies. Eco-fuel growth and rising corn prices are pumping money toward entrepreneurs in traditional breadbasket industries. And government investments in broadband and high-tech "incubators" (subsidized office space geared toward high-tech businesses) are allowing local economies to branch out beyond the cotton and corn fields.