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Airline travel and more disrupted by global tech outage; Nevada gets OK to sell federal public lands for affordable housing;Science Moms work to foster meaningful talks on climate change; Scientists reconsider net-zero pledges to reach climate goals.

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As Trump accepts nomination for President, delegates emphasize themes of unity and optimism envisioning 'new golden age.' But RNC convention was marked by strong opposition to LGBTQ rights, which both opened and closed the event.

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It's grass-cutting season and with it, rural lawn mower races, Montana's drive-thru blood project is easing shortages, rural Americans spend more on food when transportation costs are tallied, and a lack of good childcare is thwarting rural business owners.

Rural Report: Steer the 'Big Box' Train Away from Small Towns

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Tuesday, September 12, 2023   

Travel through rural parts of Wisconsin and chances are you will pass a "dollar store". A new report says corporate retailers have too much of a presence in smaller communities, and that certain policies could help Main Street businesses compete. The 2023 Rural Policy Action report, which has input from nearly 30 organizations, urges federal policymakers to advance bills that would strengthen antitrust laws in hopes of hopes of curbing consolidation and more strictly scrutinizing mergers

Katy Milani, associate director for policy and advocacy for the Independent Business Institute for Local Self-Reliance and contributed to the report, argued big box chains have been given a lot of flexibility to add stores across rural America.

"We have seen in the last 50 years significant consolidation in our economy," Milani said. "You go to any town across the country and a lot of them look the same, it's the same dollar store, it's the same Walmart. "

Milani added these trends push out independent businesses, preventing small towns from taking agency over their ability to flourish. Her group noted the FTC needs stronger enforcement of laws designed to prevent bigger retailers from getting special deals from suppliers, allowing them to mark down prices. Chains like Dollar General defend their growth, saying they often get requests from rural areas for new stores.

The report also calls for investment in foundational infrastructure in rural areas, such as healthcare access. The authors say these communities are more diverse than people think, and residents deserve equitable opportunities. Milani agrees and says there are a lot of questions in this area that need more focus.

"What does economic-racial justice, around rural issues - and also gender - what does that look like," Milani said.

She added those discussions need to be free of the political divide that often clouds public discourse. The report says protecting democracy and access to voting allows diverse rural communities to have a voice on these matters without intimidation. A recommendation asks the federal government to make bigger investments in election safety and security, noting the burden often falls on state and local governments, some of which lack the resources to block threats.


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