South Appalachia is already turning around, and remote work offers new opportunities for North Appalachian communities too.
Hi Aaron, I'm a new subscriber who grew up in Southern Appalachia, near where Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama come together. Thanks to TVA this area is flourishing.
Anyway, it occurs to me that you and some of your readers might be interested in a piece I just published on Joel Kotkin's New Geography website, in which I propose a plan to resettle America in new country towns. Of course there is more to it than that: https://shorturl.at/FMN03
Just a personal anecdote. My son-in-law wanted to move back to northern Kentucky after college here in Houston. They are both accountants and ended up south of Lexington. The Lexington and near-Cincinatti areas of Kentucky are maybe not booming but seem to be doing fine. Nevertheless, I guess the economic situation drops rapidly as you go east.
They have both worked remotely, my daughter full remote with her same Houston job. That situation has worked out very well for her. My son in law switched jobs to a Kentucky manufacturer, but even he doesn't have to go in to the plant more than a day or two per week, normally.
It seems like norms for knowledge workers are really changing. I can't help thinking that with better internet (thanks Elon & Starlink), this trend of folks moving to nicer and more affordable parts of the country will continue to have legs. I suspect state and local governments need to be focusing on how to keep the housing markets affordable, so locals can share in the rising tide.
Aaron - this is not a criticism, more of a question. I say that since I may have ultimately come to the same methodology and recommendations as you. But most of this is geared towards essentially recruiting the professional class to the region as a means toward improving its economic trajectory. Again, I understand that, agree, and think it's smart. But what do we have to say about methods to more directly improve the lot of existing residents? I know you have the one example of essentially training someone there, but what else? I fear in our world of planning/development we frequently lack ideas on how to build up the local economies of working class and rural people without "recruit smart people from elsewhere." Any thoughts on this, especially for a region like Appalachia?