Breaking Down Silos in Rural Communities


Want to better your community but don’t know where to start? Enter It’s the Little Things: a weekly Strong Towns podcast that gives you the wisdom and encouragement you need to take the small yet powerful actions that can make your city or town stronger.

It’s the Little Things features Strong Towns Community Builder Jacob Moses in conversation with various guests who have taken action in their own places and in their own ways.

In rural communities across the country, state agencies work with local leaders to help navigate their needs and choose which projects would most benefit their communities. For example, state agencies can help revitalize a town’s main street or provide grants passed on from the federal government.

These state agencies, of course, have good intentions. They care about the people residing in rural communities and want to do what they can to ensure these communities can thrive. However, amid all the resources and services state agencies provide, a common issue can arise: many state agencies are unaware of the work other agencies are doing in the same community.

The result: rural communities become confused about which agencies they should contact for certain resources—and, often, there are redundant efforts by the agencies.

This is especially true in rural Utah, where my guest, Jordan Katcher, works hands-on as Community Development Specialist for the State of Utah. Jordan and her team, who visit rural communities across the state, learned that local leaders are often unaware of funding opportunities or programs that could benefit their communities.

This disconnect is not a result of apathy; instead, it’s because there are silos between the state and rural communities so local leaders don’t know whom to contact for what resources.

That’s why Jordan and her team created the Rural Coordinating Council (RCC): a new initiative from the State of Utah to help break down these silos. The RCC, which launched in December 2018, plans to break down these silos by focusing on collaboration—ensuring all state agencies working in a particular community in rural Utah are aware of each other’s efforts.  

And the best part: the RCC ensures their projects are a grassroots effort, getting local leaders involved in the process from the start.

In this episode, you’ll learn how, as a government employee, you can break down silos in rural communities, including how to choose who to get involved in the process, how to understand the needs of rural communities, and most important, how breaking down these silos can make rural communities stronger.

Top photo via flickr