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FIGURE 7-3 Survey responses indicating concerns for small manufacturers, 2001 and 2003. SOURCE: National Federation of Independent Business, Small Business Economic Trends. Available at http://www.nfib.com/. Accessed November 2003.

than have larger firms.8 Since nearly all rural manufacturers are also small manufacturers, the difficulties caused by rising insurance costs have likely hit them disproportionately.

CONCLUSION

Manufacturing remains a driving force in many of the nation’s rural areas, but it also faces many challenges. Even before the difficulties caused by the recent recession and rising insurance costs, rural factories were dealing with the effects of globalization and the rapid change of technology. It remains to be seen how rural factories cope with these challenges. Given the importance of manufacturing to rural areas, however, one thing is certain: How well rural manufacturers are able to meet these challenges will profoundly affect the economic well-being of a large number of Americans.



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