What are the advantages and disadvantages of rural industrialization?

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There are several advantages of rural industrialization beyond the obvious economic ones such as higher wages, less dependence on related agricultural industries, and employment opportunity. While the most significant advantage is economic, several advantages are bonuses that increased economic activity indirectly impacts. Some research seems to support the idea school systems benefit and academic achievement appears to rise. An expanding tax base, particularly in the form of increased property taxes paid by the new residents relocating to rural industries, generates new sources of revenue for school systems. Though possibly an overgeneralization, when industry chooses to locate from a more urban setting to a rural area, they recognize the skill level of the workforce is probably inadequate to staff the plant. To support the relocation and construction of a new manufacturing plant or reinvestment in an industry that may have a location in a rural area draws people with the skills needed to operate the plant to the area. New people create a short term economic boom as they need housing and bring new dollars into the area. Many of the efforts to relocate industry to rural areas have built into them substantial state guarantees of tax subsidies and promises to increase the skill level of potential new employees by investing in the education system. Opportunities also slow the number of people who rather than leave an area choose to stay, which is an economic benefit as well. A better-educated population tends to draw complementary industries to the area to support the significant manufacturer relocating to a rural area.

The disadvantages are equally apparent. The major disadvantage is the character of the rural area is compromised. More people, traffic, and higher costs are associated with increased economic activity. New people bring new ideas about how an area should develop (some good, some bad), and these ideas may contradict longstanding beliefs that form the character of the rural community. Industrialization may displace people from the property they have owned for generations or may change the use of the land to the extent it impacts farmers who remain committed to agriculture. Studies have shown that not everyone benefits economically from industrialization in rural areas. Significant amounts of economic development from construction work and delivery of materials leak out of the community to outside contractors. Non-residents and commuters comprise a substantial part of the workforce, and they tend to spend their money where they live. There is always a possibility a rural area will become too dependent on one large industrial plant, and when the economy or industry changes the plant moves to a different area, wiping out any long term benefits the community received. Some industries use their size and status to monopolize the workforce and prevent other similar industries for relocating to the area.

In a global economy, the lesson learned by the industrial base relocating to rural communities is the economic benefit, while very attractive, can disappear in the blink of an eye. What was once a promising economic development can abandon a community in moment's notice leaving the community worse off than before it located in the rural area. Both the positive and negative advantages have to be weighed from a long-term perspective.

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The major advantages of industrialization in rural areas are employment, infrastructure, and education. Rural areas are often left behind when it comes to economic opportunities. For families that do not farm, rural areas can mean a lengthy commute to the nearest job sites, but more often, those in rural areas experience higher rates of unemployment. Industrialization can bring jobs to those remote areas, and with jobs, better infrastructure. Building a factory means building roads to the factory, ensuring quick shipping routes, and providing adequate housing for employees. Finally, with better infrastructure and job opportunities often come better schools. The tax base in a community increases around industry, small businesses come in to serve that industry (such as restaurants and hotels). As property values increase, the demand for and funding for public schools increase.

The major disadvantages of industrialization in rural areas are pollution, displacement of residents, and loss of natural spaces. Rural areas can be more susceptible to groundwater and/or freshwater pollution when industry moves in because they do not have the safeguards already in place in industrialized areas. The issue is compounded if the rural area is home to livestock and/or crop farming. When industry comes to a rural area, bringing jobs and tax breaks with it, it may need to displace homes, businesses, schools, and wildlife to set up operations. Finally, rural areas are marked by unspoiled acreage, which may not generate revenue, but preserves green spaces and wildlife.  Loss of green spaces is one of the major reasons rural residents protest industrialization.

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