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Strengthening America's Rural Innovation Infrastructure

The Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group (CSG) interviewed staff at Region Five Development Commission (R5DC) as part of their research that identified “Rural Development Hub” intermediaries as effective community and economic development partners in rural America. CSG has now published the final report of this research, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The report, titled ‘Rural Development Hubs: Strengthening America’s Rural Innovation Infrastructure’, offers value and insight for the entire country. It focuses on the role – and aggregates the wisdom – of a set of intermediaries, like R5DC who are doing economic and community development differently in rural America. Rural Development Hubs are main players advancing an asset-based and inclusive wealth-building approach to rural community and economic development in this country. The recommendations that emerged from CSG’s Hub interviews can help investors, policymakers and other decision-makers who have questions about rural America.

“Our organization has been fortunate to learn and grow beside some of the nation’s best economic and community development practitioners”, shares R5DC’s Executive Director Cheryal Hills. “In this report we are classified as a ‘Unicorn Regional Organization’ which is fitting given that we are quite unique as a unit of government who also staffs a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, both committed to regional prosperity for ALL people. The CSG’s report has been the first to accurately record this complex mix and the rural relevancy.”

To read more about rural development hubs and view the summary report, visit: View the full report at:

About Region Five Development Commission

Enhancing the vitality and quality of life in Cass, Crow Wing, Morrison, Todd and Wadena counties is the mission of Region Five Development Commission. Resiliency, inclusion and collaboration are guiding concepts in achieving mutually shared goals that continue to evolve from residents, private, public, philanthropic, non-profit and social advocacy agencies. Visit to learn more.

About the Aspen Institute

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners.


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