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September/October 2001

Inside This Issue:


Bankruptcy Rates Reviewed
Take a look into anyone's wallet and chances are you'll see at least one credit card stuffed between other plastic or paper necessities. Whether for business needs or personal use, most everyone today has used a credit card or obtained a loan to purchase goods or services.

There are times, however, when borrowers become overextended or when unforeseen events occur, and borrowers are unable to meet their debt obligations. To account for these times, the U.S. adopted bankruptcy laws years ago that are intended to achieve some type of balance between the debtor's and creditor's rights.

To take a closer look at bankruptcy filings and rates across the U.S. and compare them to those filed in Pennsylvania, researchers from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, through a grant from the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, collected and analyzed bankruptcy data. The Center's Board of Directors has approved the release of that research, and the report, Rural Bankruptcy Rates in Pennsylvania, is now available.

Collecting the data
To complete the analysis and the report, researchers Dr. Martha Troxell, Dr. Robert Boldin, and Dr. Mohamed Albohali, obtained bankruptcy data from the U.S. Courts Statistical Division for the 20-year period from 1980 to 1999. The researchers compared bankruptcy information according to the type of bankruptcy (business and non-business), the chapter of bankruptcy (7, 11, 12 and 13), and by whether the bankruptcy was in a rural or an urban area. Per capita personal income and unemployment rates for the same period were used to provide a broader perspective of rural and urban differences. Finally, bankruptcies filed were correlated by the various categories of chapters, business and non-business, and rural and urban.

Bankruptcies filed were also correlated with unemployment rates and per capita income over the period to determine if any relationships exist.

Review of the findings

Want more info?
For a copy of the report, Rural Bankruptcies in Pennsylvania, call the Center for Rural Pennsylvania at (717) 787-9555 or email


Chairman's Message
Have you ever known someone who has had trouble managing his or her money? Most of us have heard horror stories about people who have brought financial hardships to themselves and their families because they can't control their spending. With the availability of relatively easy credit today, a disturbing trend shows bankruptcies on the increase. This troubling statistic has prompted us to take a closer look to see what kind of bankruptcies are occurring and where they occur most frequently. I know you will find the results of our cover story most interesting.

I am also certain you will find another Center-sponsored endeavor to be of interest, and that's our upcoming "Rural Summit in the City." The Center for Rural Pennsylvania, with the assistance of its board, staff, steering committee and supporters, is ready to welcome you to the Harrisburg Hilton & Towers on November 13 and 14 to participate in an exciting "meeting of rural minds."

The Rural Summit in the City will feature a variety of sessions, an informational breakfast, luncheons with featured speakers, and an evening reception and dinner with our keynote speaker.

I look forward to hearing our featured speakers, Mark Drabenstott of the Center for the Study of Rural America and Rick Smyre of Communities of the Future, who will provide insights on the present status of and future opportunities for rural America.

Our keynote speaker, Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson of Missouri, will comment on the agenda of the Congressional Rural Caucus, which she co-chairs.

Congresswoman Emerson is the first woman to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives by Missouri's rural Eighth Congressional District. As a member of Congress, she is dedicated to preserving and promoting the rural way of life by raising the voice of rural America in Washington, which means fighting for America's farmers and ranchers during the tough times, securing the reauthorization of the Economic Development Administration (EDA) in the 105th Congress, serving as an active outreach coordinator of the Rural Health Care Coalition (RHCC) for three years, and taking the lead on establishing the Congressional Rural Caucus. As co-chair, she remains active in ensuring that the ideas and issues of southern Missouri, and that of rural America in general, are heard loud and clear on Capitol Hill.

Please join me in welcoming these exciting speakers to the Commonwealth to share their perspectives on issues of importance to Pennsylvania. I'm also pleased to welcome our lineup of expert panelists, hailing from our home state and from states in the Midwest, Northeast and South. These panelists are sure to provide you with information that you can use back home after the Rural Summit.

The registration brochure on pages 3 to 6 will help you learn more about the Rural Summit in the City's full and exciting agenda. Please return your registration form to the Center for Rural Pennsylvania as soon as possible. If you have any questions about the Rural Summit, call or email the Center for Rural Pennsylvania. I look forward to seeing you in November.

Representative Sheila Miller

(Note: Visit the Center for Rural Pennsylvania's homepage for a copy of the Rural Summit in the City conference brochure)


Just the Facts: Public Lands in PA
In 2000, one in seven acres of land in Pennsylvania was publicly owned. The stewards of these 4.2 million acres are the Pennsylvania State Game Commission, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, the Bureaus of Forestry and State Parks, the U.S. Park Service, and the U.S. Forest Service.

The vast majority of these public lands are in rural Pennsylvania, so together, state and federal governments own almost 18 percent of rural Pennsylvania. Seven counties, including Cameron, Clinton, Elk, Forest, Potter, Sullivan, and Union, have more than one-third of their total acreage under government control.

The largest owner of public land in Pennsylvania is the state Bureau of Forestry. A bureau within the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, it manages more than 1.9 million acres. The next largest landholder is the Pennsylvania Game Commission with nearly 1.4 million acres. Together these two agencies own nearly 80 percent of the public land in Pennsylvania.

Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) report, Major Uses of Land in the United States, shows that nationally, Pennsylvania ranks 17th in the number of publicly owned acres. These lands include federal and state parks, wilderness areas, and wildlife refuges. Alaska, California, and Arizona have the most publicly owned lands, while Kansas, Delaware, and Rhode Island have the least. In 1997, it was estimated that there were 237 million acres of public land in the United States, or 10 percent of the total land area.

Between 1959 and 1997, USDA estimated that the number of acres of public land in the United States has tripled. During this period, USDA reports that Pennsylvania gained about 530,000 acres of publicly owned parkland.


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