U of U hosts panel about rural/urban divide

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (News4Utah) – Lt. Governor Spencer Cox led a panel discussion at the University of Utah Monday discussing the issues facing rural communities. A recent study by U of U students focused on why kids in those communities aren’t seeking a higher education.

Nathan Kunz is a Senior at the U of U and helped with the study. One of the things that surprised them is that many students in rural areas do show an interest in college.

“Rural students are interested in going to college, and they say so when they’re in high school but they still decide not to go,” said Kunz.

Research found that students in rural communities often don’t have the encouragement or tools from teachers and parents. Kunz said a proposed solution isn’t just about four year degrees, but also letting students know about technical training and freelance options.

Lt. Gov. Spenser Cox led the panel discussion. He told stories about his families history living in rural communities and their struggles with poverty. He also pointed out that much of the opportunity for rural communities has left.

“The old economy left us, but the new economy never found us,” said Lt. Gov. Cox.

The Lieutenant Governor said a big advantage of rural Utah is that they have access to high-speed internet. He believes that could attract businesses and help relieve problems along the Wasatch Front.

“So being able to expand there, allowing people to work online, and telecommute from rural Utah,” said Lt. Gov. Cox. “I really think can provide some advantages to companies here.”

Everyone on the panel agreed that urban areas of Utah will be key to helping rural areas of the state. Lynn Pace is the Senior Advisor Intergovernmental Affairs for Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski. He notes the commuter model of working is no longer sustainable.

“Have everybody in the surrounding area come into the city and go back,” said Pace. “Drive in their own car and park for free, those days are gone.”

Pace said making better opportunities in rural communities could also help relieve housing pressure which are forcing prices up.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


More Podcasts
Inside Utah Politics Logo

Glen Mills

Chief Political Correspondent

 Glen is honored to be delivering the news of the day every weeknight at 5, 6, and 10 in his home state. He is an award-winning veteran journalist, who joined the ABC4 News team as a weekend anchor in June 2013. Over the years, he held various positions at the station as he worked his way up to the main anchor chair. He also serves as our Senior Political Correspondent and hosts Inside Utah Politics, which airs every Sunday. The Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has recognized Glen as the best government and military television reporter in the state. Before returning home to Utah, he spent 11 1/2 years developing his journalism skills in other states. He held various on-air and management positions at KPVI in Pocatello, Idaho, WGBA in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and KKCO in Grand Junction, Colorado during that time. Read More...