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January/February 2006

Inside This Issue:

 

Wind, Water and Workforce Development
Center Announces 2006 Research Grant Projects
In November 2005, the Center for Rural Pennsylvania’s board of directors approved 11 grant proposals and one mini grant proposal, totaling more than $500,000, as part of the Center for Rural Pennsylvania’s 2006 Grant Program. The successful proposals were submitted by eight faculty of Pennsylvania State University and four faculty of the State System of Higher Education universities. The research grant projects, which typically run from January to December 2006, cover a wide range of topics including wind energy, water quality, workforce development, unemployment, school district building needs, organic feed development, and education.

“With this round of grant projects, the Center for Rural Pennsylvania is continuing its important work, in collaboration with our university faculty partners, to investigate relevant issues and develop policy considerations for programs and initiatives for rural Pennsylvania,” says Senator John Gordner, Center board chairman.

2006 Grant Projects
The Center’s traditional grant program offers a maximum funding level of $50,000 per project per year. A list of grant awards under the targeted and open topic categories are summarized below.

Protocol for Determining Feasibility of Installing Dedicated Wind Energy in Pennsylvania’s Rural Communities
Dr. Robert Weissbach of Pennsylvania State University–Erie will evaluate the feasibility of installing dedicated wind energy in Pennsylvania’s rural communities. Sites will be identified for real-world investigation, towers will be erected to acquire wind data, and case studies will be conducted to validate the protocol.

Rural Drinking Water Quality in Pennsylvania
Dr. William E. Sharpe of Pennsylvania State University will determine the occurrence and causes for several health-related pollutants in 700 private wells in rural counties of Pennsylvania. The results may have implications for private well and septic system legislation.

The Workforce Investment Act and Entrepreneurship in Rural Pennsylvania
Dr. Frederick D. Loomis of Pennsylvania State University will examine entrepreneurship training initiatives funded through the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), survey all WIA regions in Pennsylvania, conduct site visits in three rural regions, identify policy implications and offer recommendations to develop a deeper understanding of the policy issues related to WIA and entrepreneurship in rural Pennsylvania.

Assessing Rural Underemployment and Unemployment in Pennsylvania
Drs. Jack Julian and David B. Yerger of Indiana University of Pennsylvania will examine the causal links between self-reported underemployment and a variety of socio-economic variables. The results will be used to estimate the number of underemployed and unemployable persons in each rural Pennsylvania county.

Determining Policy Options for Reducing Unemployment and Underemployment in Rural Pennsylvania
Drs. Martin Shields and Jill Findeis of Pennsylvania State University will identify policies to reduce unemployment and underemployment in rural Pennsylvania by: documenting the persistence of long-term rural and urban unemployment rate differentials with an eye toward causes; and examining the regional, local and individual factors affecting the rural unemployment and underemployment rates.

Opportunities for and Impact of Industry Clusters in Rural Pennsylvania
Mr. Todd Behr of East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania will analyze industry clusters in rural Pennsylvania by: identifying linkages; examining the process of cluster formation; studying factors supporting clusters, such as research and development and higher education; identifying their rural market opportunities; determining clusters’ impact on other businesses; and proposing policy considerations to exploit their rural potential.

Health Care Degree Programs: Their Role in Serving Pennsylvania’s Rural Health Care Workforce
Mr. Myron Schwartz of Pennsylvania State University–Hershey will develop a directory of health care degree granting programs. The directory will include student training capacity and a listing of rural-related programs. The pipeline from Pennsylvania medical and dental schools into Pennsylvania rural practices will also be analyzed.

Examination of Failing Private Septic Systems in Pennsylvania
Dr. Rick L. Day of Pennsylvania State University will estimate the number of septic systems throughout the state, evaluate failure rates and factors affecting failure, evaluate implications on future development, and test a tracking system to monitor system use.

School District Building Needs – Projections for the Next 10 Years
Dr. Wenfan Yan of Indiana University of Pennsylvania will examine current conditions and future school building needs in rural Pennsylvania and will provide a statistical model that will assist school districts in identifying their future needs. A statewide survey will be conducted and questionnaires sent to approximately 243 school districts that are categorized as rural.

Creation of Organic Feed Formulations for Rural Pennsylvania Aquafarms
Dr. Steven Hughes of Cheyney University of Pennsylvania will begin developing organic feeds for the aquaculture industry since new marketing strategies for aquaculture products could lead to industry expansion and additional income for businesses in rural Pennsylvania.

Rural Youth Education Project
Dr. Anastasia R. Snyder of Pennsylvania State University will continue a Center for Rural Pennsylvania multiyear project examining the factors influencing the educational and career aspirations and attainment of rural youth in Pennsylvania.

2006 Mini Grant
The Center’s mini grant program offers a maximum funding level of $10,000 per project for a nine-month period.

Developing Effective Citizen Participation: A Guide for Community Leaders
Dr. Kathryn J. Brasier of Pennsylvania State University will develop a guide for community leaders on how to promote participation of citizens, particularly in rural areas. This project will create materials for leaders to solicit public involvement, manage meetings, and communicate with local residents.

Topics for 2007
As this year’s grantees begin their projects, the Center for Rural Pennsylvania’s board is identifying topics for the 2007 Grant Program. The grant topics will address relevant issues impacting Pennsylvania’s 3.4 million rural residents. After the topics have been identified, the Center will issue its Request for Proposals (RFP) in February.

While the Center’s grant program is only available to faculty at SSHE and Penn State universities, the Center encourages cooperation and collaboration between these faculty and other public or private organizations.

For more information about the 2007 RFP or to receive a copy, call the Center at (717) 787-9555 or visit our website at www.ruralpa.org.

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Chairman’s Message
I am honored to take on the chairmanship of the Center for Rural Pennsylvania and look forward to working with the board, staff, and General Assembly to promote public policy that effectively meets the diverse challenges and opportunities facing our 3.4 million rural Pennsylvanians.

I am confident the Center for Rural Pennsylvania will continue its important work, in partnership with our faculty researchers, resulting in practical ideas, best practices and innovative solutions.

As we begin the New Year and a new round of research projects, it is fitting that we also take a moment to look back and recognize my predecessor, Representative Sheila Miller.

In January 1997, Sheila took the reins of chairman after serving as a board member for three years. Her leadership style mirrored her work as a state legislator – behind the scenes and focused on results.

Over the years, the Center has sponsored research and provided data, been an effective rural voice, and helped open doors of state government – quietly, yet effectively, and always in collaboration with others. From the rural network of Community and Higher Education Councils and the New Communities Programs of Main Street and Elm Street, to the statewide Area Health Education Centers, and the 11-county PA Route 6 Tourist Association, the Center’s resources have helped to make a difference in these programs and in rural Pennsylvania.

As board chairman, Sheila also advanced research making major contributions on health care, micro-enterprise development, and tourism. The Center’s 1998 publication on The Economic Values and Impacts of Sport Fishing, Hunting and Trapping Activities in Pennsylvania continues to be cited for its first-of-a-kind data. Other research has been the basis for numerous successful “how-to” guides on topics that include community visioning, starting and strengthening farmers’ markets, zoning for agriculture, and downtown revitalization.

Under Sheila’s guidance, the Center expanded the first comprehensive guide to sources for rural grants, loans and technical assistance. The Rural Access Guide, initially published in 1994, is now a searchable online guide that features information on federal, state and nonprofit grants, loans and technical assistance.

After the 2000 Census, Sheila encouraged the Center to develop a new definition of rural, based on population density, that would more accurately reflect Pennsylvania’s landscape to guide future research and data collection.

In 2005, she advanced the Center’s mission by authorizing the first-ever current population survey of Pennsylvania’s rural residents to provide baseline data on the state’s rural households and individuals. This survey will be conducted every year so that staff can begin to track and compare data.

While these are just a few examples of the work the Center has accomplished under Sheila’s guidance, they offer a clear picture of the work she values most – useful and results-oriented.

On behalf of the board and staff, I wish Sheila well on her final year in the House of Representatives in 2006 and thank her for the important contributions she has made in the name of all rural Pennsylvanians as a board member and chairman of the Center for Rural Pennsylvania.

Senator John Gordner

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Adult Ed Programs in Rural Pennsylvania Face Unique Challenges
Thirty million Americans cannot do much more than sign a form or search a simple document to find out what they are allowed to drink before a medical test. That’s because these adults have below basic literacy skills, according to a 2005 report on adult literacy by the National Center for Education Statistics.

In Pennsylvania, there are about 4 million adults who function below the minimum level necessary to succeed in the workforce. For these adults, there is a pressing need for adult literacy and basic education programs.

Despite several federal adult literacy and basic skills initiatives organized throughout the last decade, research shows that the infrastructure of adult literacy programs remains inadequate to handle the diverse needs for services, especially for those adults living in rural Pennsylvania.

To describe the status of and factors that influence adult learning and to provide information to help policymakers foster adult learning programs in rural Pennsylvania, the Center for Rural Pennsylvania sponsored research in 2002 and 2003, which was conducted by Dr. Wenfan Yan of Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Literacy in this study referred to reading ability related to the knowledge and skills of understanding information from text and job-related materials, math ability related to applying math operations to perform job or life-related tasks, and basic technology skills necessary to function successfully in society.

Study focused on three areas
The study focused on three main areas: adult learners’ characteristics and participation patterns, infrastructure for providing services, and funding streams that support literacy and basic education.

The study used three types of data sources: focus group discussions of adult education program directors, a survey of adult education program directors, and an analysis of documents from the Pennsylvania Departments of Labor and Industry and Education.

The research found that, in addition to the challenges facing all adult education providers, adult education programs in rural Pennsylvania face a unique set of challenges and obstacles. These include serving a diverse group of rural adults who need a variety of services, a changing job market, and vast geographic areas with low population densities.

The following considerations, which were derived from the research, take into account unique rural characteristics and provide important information to help policymakers foster successful adult education programs in rural Pennsylvania.

Increase educational opportunities for rural adult learners

Improve the quality of rural adult education programs

Reevaluate funding policies and practices for rural adult education programs

More information
For a copy of the research report, Adult Education in Rural Pennsylvania, call the Center for Rural Pennsylvania at (717) 787-9555 or email info@ruralpa.org. A copy of the report is also available online at www.ruralpa.org.

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Behind the Numbers – Income
In this issue of Rural Perspectives, we are starting a new series that takes an in-depth look at data. Each article in our Behind the Numbers series will look at a specific measure or indicator to provide a better understanding of what the data for the indicator mean, how data are used and where you can get them. While we'll answer just a few basic questions about the measure or indicator in the article, we also will have a more detailed fact sheet available online at www.ruralpa.org or by calling the Center for Rural Pennsylvania at (717) 787-9555 or emailing info@ruralpa.org.

What is “income”?
Gains made from earned and unearned sources. Typically these gains are measured by money.

What does it measure?
The amount of gains, or money, generated by a community, household, or individual.

What does it tell us?
The relative wealth of a community or household.

What doesn’t it tell us?
The absolute wealth of a community or household. It is not a measure of total assets.

How is the data collected?
Most income data is self-reported by the individual or household. Secondary sources of income data include tax returns and wage and salary reports. In most cases, income data is aggregated and reported as either a median or mean or per capita. It is sometimes reported in ranges.

Where can I get it?
U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, Pennsylvania Department of Revenue, and others.

When should I use it?

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Latest Census Data Show Slow Growth in Household Income
Pennsylvania household income has declined from 2000 to 2003, according to recently released data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The median household income in every county, except Pike and Westmoreland, declined over the three-year period.

After adjusting for inflation, the average rural household saw its income decline by $1,800 between 2000 and 2003, while the average urban household saw a $2,500 decline. Pennsylvanians, however, are not alone; only six states nationwide had an increase in median household income during this period.

Along with a decline, the majority of rural Pennsylvania households are significantly below the statewide level. In 2003, the median household income in Pennsylvania was $42,952. Thirty-five of the state’s 48 rural counties had a median household income that was at least $5,000 below this level. In comparison, only five of the state’s 19 urban counties had lower incomes than the state median.

One cause of declining household income may be the slow economic recovery from the 2001-2002 recession. In addition, consumer prices have increased faster than income.

For information on the median household income in your county, call the Center for Rural Pennsylvania at (717) 787-9555 or email info@ruralpa.org.

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Pennsylvania’s Rural Population: The Difference Between Night and Day
More than 452,000 rural Pennsylvanians commute out of their home county during daytime working hours, according to data from Census 2000. The greatest change is in Perry County, where 29 percent of the population travels for work out of the county. On the other end of the spectrum is Montour County, which sees a 20 percent commuter gain in population during the daytime.

About 69 percent of rural workers live and work in the same county compared to 74 percent of urban workers.

Just 28 percent of workers who live in Pike County also work in the county compared to 92 percent in Centre County, the rural county where the highest percentage of the population stays in the county.

Population Change Due to
Daytime Commuting in Pennsylvania Counties, 2000

Worker Population that Lives and Works
in the Same County in Pennsylvania, 2000

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Just the Facts: Let’s Propose a Toast . . .
. . . to the wineries and vineyards that lend flavor to the sights, sounds and atmosphere of rural Pennsylvania. Let’s uncork some facts, courtesy of the Pennsylvania Wine Association's Economic Report of 2003 and fiscal year 2004-2005 data from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.

With it’s 84 wineries, the commonwealth ranks 5th nationwide for the number of wineries located in the state. These wineries produced nearly 700,000 gallons of wine in 2000. That's a 21 percent increase in production from 1997. And increased production could lead to increased sales and profits for Pennsylvania’s wineries, since these wineries account for only about 3 percent of the wine sold within the state.

Pennsylvania’s wine connoisseurs purchased nearly 49.7 million bottles, or “units,” from the state’s wine and spirit stores in 2005, with White Zinfandel being the most popular of all types sold. Even with the small portion of the market that local wineries reach, they generate $21 million in sales, which translates to a whopping $50 million economic impact for Pennsylvania.

When William Penn planted that first grape seed to start America’s first vineyard in 1683, he probably never imagined that vineyards would cover 12,943 acres of Pennsylvania, with an additional 10,000 acres used for related agricultural purposes. The 61,500 tons of grapes grown for wines, juices, or just plain eating boosts the state to 4th place among the largest grape producers in the U. S. Pennsylvania’s wine and grape industries have been actively involved with promoting rural and agricultural development, and are a fine example of successfully blending tourism and agricultural activities. Cheers!

Fast facts on Pennsylvania’s wine industry

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