Progressive Farmer magazine crowns Ellis County, Kansas and nine other best rural places to live based on their ability to thrive, even during struggles, among other quality-of-life statistics.
Ellis County in Kansas was awarded one of the top honors in the fourth annual edition of the “Best Places to Live in Rural America” rankings by The Progressive Farmer magazine. Each year, the rankings name the top 10 rural counties in the nation according to several quality-of-life indicators and statistics; all 10 counties are profiled in the February 2007 issue of The Progressive Farmer and the top 500 rural counties are listed on the magazine’s website (www.progressivefarmer.com).
The top 10 rural counties are ranked based on rural quality-of-life indicators such as great schools, access to health care, low crime and affordable farmland. In 2008, the editors of The Progressive Farmer added extra criteria by focusing on counties that have been able to protect farmland, control growth pressure from urban and suburban areas, and strike a good balance between agriculture, manufacturing and modern conveniences.
No. 2 Ellis County is known for its frontier spirit with agriculture and oil sustaining its economy. Like many agricultural areas, Ellis County saw hard times in the 1980s, but has since revitalized the area by forming a coalition to ensure economic vitality.
“It would have been easy for community leaders to give up during the tough times of the 1980s,” says Senior Editor Gregg Hillyer, who visited the county for the magazine. “But they banded together and went to work to improve the region’s economic fortunes and to enhance the quality of life for everyone.”
“This year, we wanted to celebrate the people that make the places special,” says Senior Editor Jamie Cole. “We want to show what they’re doing to keep their rural counties rural. We hope other places—small towns, counties, rural areas—that face these same challenges can find ideas through our list.”