Greater Adoption of Digital Tools in Rural America Could Add $140 Billion to the U.S. Economy by 2021
New research by
Increased adoption could grow annual revenues of rural small
businesses by 21% over the next three years – the equivalent of
Online tools and technology have the highest potential impact on
rural small businesses with annual revenue under
Report outlines recommendations for the private and public sectors, including expanding education and training programs, helping rural areas attract tech talent, and increasing the availability of high-speed internet access and mobile phone connectivity
This press release features multimedia. View the full release here: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20190313005370/en/
There are 37 million working-age adults and 18 million households in the
rural U.S. While accounting for close to 15% of the adult population and
nearly three-quarters of the country’s land mass, annual revenues of
rural businesses represent only 3.7% of total gross revenues in the U.S.
economy. Despite some improvement in the adoption of digital tools by
rural businesses over the past years, this new research shows how
increased use of digital technology in rural America could help drive
faster growth in the rural economy. Greater adoption of digital
technology over the next three years could grow revenues of rural
“We’ve seen firsthand how rural entrepreneurs can transform their
businesses through digital technology, from reaching millions of new
customers around the world by selling online, to quickly scaling their
startups thanks to affordable access to cloud computing,” said
“The opportunity to successfully start and grow a rural small business
in our country is a great example of how technology is positively
transforming nearly every aspect of our lives,” said
Potential positive impact of online tools and technology on rural businesses (each year, 2019-2021)
|New England (CT, ME, MA, NH, VT)||$2.7||$1.6||14,312|
|Middle Atlantic (NY, PA)||$5.7||$3.3||24,350|
|East-North Central (IL, IN, MI, OH, WI)||$15.7||$8.5||64,388|
|West-North Central (IA, KS, MN, MO, NE, ND, SD)||$9.1||$5.0||35,281|
|South Atlantic (FL, GA, MD, NC, SC, VA, WV)||$14.6||$8.2||67,431|
|East-South Central (AL, KY, MS, TN)||$13.5||$7.3||58,127|
|West-South Central (AR, LA, OK, TX)||$12.5||$7.0||45,937|
|Mountain (AZ, CO, ID, MT, NV, NM, UT, WY)||$5.9||$3.4||29,454|
|Pacific (AK, CA, HI, OR, WA)||$4.8||$2.7||20,773|
According to the new research, southern states are among the ones that
would benefit the most from increased adoption of online tools and
digital services, with rural businesses in
The report, based on a survey of 5,300 businesses in rural America, outlines a number of recommendations for the public and private sectors to help unlock the unrealized economic potential of rural America, including:
- Expand rural business access to digital training and digital tools so they can scale their business. Nearly 41% of respondents agree that policymakers should create programs to incentivize rural businesses to incorporate digital technology into their daily operations.
- Increase the talent pipeline of candidates trained in digital skills. 38% of rural small businesses say they can’t hire the talent with the right digital skills in their area.
- Increase digital connectivity in rural area. Two-thirds of rural small businesses in America say slow internet or cell phone connectivity has a negative impact on their business.
“We have been selling our family-farmed garbanzo beans, peas, lentils,
and wheat for five generations, and since joining
Other key findings from the report include:
- One-in-five rural businesses are already digital. Nearly 20% of rural small businesses in America generate the vast majority of their revenue (at least 80%) by selling their products and services online.
- Technology is boosting rural business revenues. Rural businesses say adoption of digital technologies are important for their future, with 55.2% of them agreeing that e-commerce helps them grow their customer base and a similar percentage (54.6%) confirming that online tools had a positive impact on their revenue in the past three years.
- Online services help rural businesses reach customers out of state and overseas. Almost 40% of these small business owners say that digital technology has allowed them to sell beyond their state and 16% of them confirm they are selling internationally due to their access to digital tools. Thirty-three percent sell their products using their own websites, 12.7% use a third-party online sales site, and 35.7% use online marketing, including social media.
- Digital tools and technology help purchasing and cut costs. 29% of rural businesses say that online tools reduce purchasing costs of products and materials.
To download the full report, including research results and state-specific fact sheets, visit: www.empoweringruralbusinesses.com.