Economic Development, Resilience, and Innovation

NERCRD conducts research on the causes and consequences of economic resilience and innovation, and supports outreach that empowers communities to create vibrant local economies.

Recent Publications

Experimenting in the Cloud: The Digital Divide’s Impact on Innovation

This paper builds on a National Science Foundation working paper that identified a strong association between cloud use and various types of innovation but did not consider whether 1) cloud adoption is a reliable indicator of the innovation orientation of a firm, or 2) cloud adoption enables various types of innovation. The researchers estimate propensity score matching and endogenous treatment effect models to control for innovation orientation, producing evidence to test the second explanation. Findings support an enabling effect of the cloud on innovation providing concrete evidence of the adverse impact of the digital divide.

Authors: Luyi Han, Timothy R. Wojan, and Stephan J. Goetz

Publication: Telecommunications Policy   Date Published: August 1, 2023


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Household Hardship and Stimulus Payments during the Pandemic: Differences Across Ethnic Minorities in the United States

This study examines the impact of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Economic Impact Payments (EIP) on alleviating household hardship, primarily food insufficiency and expense difficulty, among ethnic groups in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic. Using data from the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey (HPS) from 2020-2022, the study investigates who received the payments and how they used them. The study employs quasi-difference-in-difference models to address the issue of non-repetitive samples in the HPS dataset. The findings suggest that Black, Hispanic, and Other Races individuals reported consistently higher probabilities of food insufficiency and expense difficulty compared to Whites and Asians. The study further reveals that individuals across all ethnic groups reported less food insufficiency or expense difficulty after the distribution of the ARPA EIP in March 2021. In addition, individuals of all ethnic minority groups who used EIP for saving had a larger decrease in the probability of food insufficiency compared with the corresponding change for Whites. The study highlights the importance of targeted stimulus policies to address distinct problems faced by different ethnic minority groups.

Authors: Zheng Tian, Claudia Schmidt, Stephan J. Goetz

Publication: Presented at 2023 Agricultural and Applied Economics Association Meeting   Date Published: July 23, 2023


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Impact of Broadband Access on Agritourism Operations in the United States

Agritourism is a growing sector that can provide opportunities for rural entrepreneurs and boost rural development in the US. Online presence is crucial for agritourism operators because they cater to consumers. In this study, we employ count data regression models to investigate the relationship between broadband adoption and the number of agritourism operations. Our analysis shows that access to fast broadband internet in 2012 significantly increased the number of agritourism operations in 2017, underscoring the pivotal role of broadband connectivity in facilitating farmer-consumer interactions.

Authors: Claudia Schmidt, Luyi Han, Arian Khaleghi Moghadam, Stephan J. Goetz

Publication: Presented at 2023 Agricultural and Applied Economics Association Meeting   Date Published: July 22, 2023

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Internationalization of the Rural Nonfarm Economy and the Cloud: Evidence from US Firm-Level Export Data

The move toward universal broadband availability envisioned in the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program presents a double-edged sword for many rural communities: increasing the leakage of local spending to more internet sales countered by better opportunities for tapping remote markets. This paper uses confidential data to examine how export intensity is affected by subscription to cloud computer services—a technology that requires very high-speed broadband. Earlier research identified an enabling effect of the cloud on various types of firm-level innovation, effectively reducing the cost of experimentation by replacing large fixed IT investments with a pay-as-you-go service. To the extent that exporting places new demands on IT-enabled functions such as order fufillment and tracking, marketing, or document control, cloud subscriptions could substantially reduce the cost of entering, and excelling in, export markets.

Authors: Luyi Han, Timothy Wojan, Stephan J. Goetz

Publication: Presented at 2023 Agricultural and Applied Economics Association Meeting   Date Published: July 23, 2023


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Impact of Community Reinvestment Act on Minority and Female Employment Growth

In this paper, we examine how the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) affected minority and female employment from 2012 to 2019. We also investigate whether the effects varied between metro and nonmetro areas. We combine demographic and income data from the American Community Survey (ACS) with employment data from the Census Longitudinal Employer- Household Dynamics Local Origin-Destination Employment Statistics (LODES). In order to determine the causal effects of the CRA on employment growth outcomes, a quasi-experimental study approach is used. According to the statistically significant findings, the CRA designation increased residence-based employment in CRA designated tracts, including job growth for female and minority groups. Additionally, we observe that these effects were higher in tracts located in non-metropolitan areas compared to metro areas.

Authors: Luyi Han, Yuxuan Pan, Stephan J. Goetz, Anil Rupasingha

Publication: Presented at 2023 Agricultural and Applied Economics Association Meeting   Date Published: July 23, 2023

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Current NERCRD Projects

Factors Affecting the Success of Female and Minority Rural Entrepreneurs and Rural Economic Vitality

Prior research suggests that expanding entrepreneurship or self-employment is a key strategy for promoting economic growth in rural, distressed regions. Furthermore, self-employment rates of women and minorities (especially Blacks) have lagged those of White males in rural areas. This project, led by West Virginia University, seeks to understand the factors that support or deter women and minority entrepreneurship and to translate these findings to help key stakeholders develop policies and programs to support women and minority entrepreneurs. Our objectives include 1) identifying the factors associated with higher shares of women and minority self-employed in rural counties using unique proprietary data; 2) examining the factors associated with the success or failure of women and minority entrepreneurs using confidential firm-level micro data; and 3) translating the research findings into Extension programming to support rural women and minority entrepreneurship and promote broad rural prosperity.

Funding Agency: USDA NIFA

Principal Investigator: Heather Stephens, West Virginia University

Accompanying Institution(s): University of Maine, NERCRD

Start Date: May 2023   End Date: May 2026

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Tourism Resilience and Community Sustainability: Adaptation and Recovery of Rural Businesses and Destinations

This multi-state Hatch research project will examine resilience and recovery through the lens of rural tourism in the Northeast region. Planned objectives include conducting collaborative assessments of rural tourism at the multi-state level; investigating the resilience, adaptability, and recoverability of different components of the rural tourism system; and identifying strategies that tourism businesses and destinations are using to cope with the pandemic.

Funding Agency: Hatch Multistate Research Fund

Principal Investigator: Doug Arbogast, West Virginia University

Accompanying Institution(s): Penn State

Start Date: October 2022   End Date: September 2027

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Tourism, Resiliency, and Indicators for Post-Pandemic Planning (TRIP)

The long-term goal of this project is to enhance the sustainability and resiliency of rural destinations by providing research-based information and a destination management framework for rural gateway destinations.

Funding Agency: USDA NIFA

Principal Investigator: Douglas Arbogast, West Virginia University

Accompanying Institution(s): Penn State, University of Vermont, University of New Hampshire

Start Date: January 2022   End Date: December 2025

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Creating an Effective Support System For Small And Medium-Sized Farm Operators To Succeed In Agritourism

Agritourism activity has the potential not only to keep small- and medium-sized farms in business but also to provide important local economic development spillover effects. While agritourism is not profitable or even appropriate in all communities, various stakeholders report that key barriers currently prevent farmers who would like to provide agritourism services from doing so. These barriers represent opportunity costs and include not only lack of information among producers, consumers, supporting organizations and policy makers, but also regulatory gaps across the states. Drawing on extensive stakeholder input, guidance and collaboration, the goal of this four-year project is to develop and disseminate practical information that will allow small- and medium-sized farmers and rural communities to benefit from the growing consumer interest in agritourism activities. Supporting objectives include to understand the roles and educational needs of various organizations in supporting agritourism; improve understanding of factors that contribute to growth in agritourism across U.S. counties; and deliver peer-reviewed educational materials to farmers as well as supporting organizations and policy makers.

Funding Agency: USDA NIFA

Principal Investigator: Claudia Schmidt, Penn State

Accompanying Institution(s): University of Vermont, Oklahoma State University

Start Date: July 2020   End Date: June 2024

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