We know at least a few of the reasons why rural communities go into decline. In eastern Washington, technology has radically improved agricultural efficiency at the cost of manual labor jobs. Technology, in the form of trucks and automobiles, has also replaced the railroad that once connected the dots of towns in a web of mutual trade and support. When the on-farm jobs disappeared, the commercial support base in small communities did, too. Banks, cafes, repair shops closed, leaving town after town with decrepit central cores. Brain drain takes young people to urban areas in search of employment—and the vicious cycle becomes a death spiral.
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