Outstate MO focuses its efforts on a number of issues with which rural Missourians are very familiar. We utilize media platforms, our relationships with thought leaders and policy makers, our network of local organizations and our growing coalition of grassroots activists to give rural communities the same opportunity for growth and success that urban areas have.
Expanding Broadband Access
If you live in Kansas City, home to Google Fiber, you have access to fast and reliable internet, but rural Missouri is one of the least connected areas in the country. A couple of years ago, the FCC ranked Missouri 41st in the nation in broadband access and 49th in speed. According to the 2020 Missouri Poverty Report, over half of Missouri residents who live in rural areas have access to broadband at the appropriate speeds, and an approximate 352,000 have absolutely no broadband access at all, effectively stunting business and economic growth. OutstateMo represents rural communities in the ongoing fight for connectivity and resources to finally move our schools, businesses and everyday processes into the digital age.
Addressing Poverty & Food Insecurity
There are 21 rural counties in the state of Missouri that struggle with food insecurity because of lack of access or affordability. The overall food insecurity rate is at 12.7% across all rural counties. Missouri’s top industry is agriculture but the farmers and ranchers responsible for putting food on tables of every family in Missouri struggle to feed their own. In addition, employment growth in rural Missouri has been free-falling for two decades. Ending the cycle of rural Missourians moving to cities or falling into poverty is a chief mission of Outstate MO.
Promoting Rural Economic Development
Rural communities have a many local advantages that can assist in attracting and growing businesses. Local banks, utility providers and eager community leaders can provide new businesses with the financial support, energy resources, and the support from the community necessary for new businesses and expanding businesses to succeed. These local assets coupled with lower rents, available land, and varied transportation resources like rail and barge make rural Missouri uniquely situated to attract investment and grow jobs.
Fortifying Emergency and Health Care Services
In rural Missouri, heath care services are spotty while accidents and injuries can be high. A total of 41 counties in Missouri don’t have a hospital. Of the 68 hospitals that are located in rural communities, many have very few beds. Most rural residents have to travel great distances for medical help. In rural Missouri, where agricultural-related accidents happen often (700 reported in 2016 alone), that trip could make an injury more serious, more permanent, or even lead to death. Addressing these issues would require a multifaceted plan that includes access to better primary and preventative care, a more stable economic environment, and better equipped and resourced first responders. Broadband access overlaps with this issue as telehealth services have replaced regular visits to the doctor. No Missourian’s heath should be affected by their choice to live outside a city, and Outstate MO is advocating to ensure they have as equal access to healthcare as those who live in the urban cities.
Delivering Reliable and Affordable Energy Services
We believe rural Missourians should have access to a reliable and affordable energy source. Our modern society would not be able to function without it. Electric providers deliver the best results by staying attentive to the needs of their local community and supplying reliable, long-term energy solutions that are affordable and support job-creating economic opportunities across our state.