We enjoy living in small towns, or we wouldn't be here, but that doesn't mean we don't think they could use improvement.
In fact, it takes growth to even maintain the standard of living that makes rural life attractive.
The Lincoln Journal Star is reporting that University of Nebraska-Lincoln officials hope to help out, launching a $1.5 million annual effort called the Rural Futures Institute in September, and hoping to land a major endowment like one that launched the Daughtery Water for Food Institute in 2010.
It's a real concern. Last week, organizers were expecting 300 people to turn out for a conference on the topic; 475 from 29 states and several foreign countries came to Lincoln.
The university has hosted 550 people in 16 focus groups across the state over the past two years to come up with ideas for the institute.
We offer one more; if it's already been suggested, this can serve as an endorsement:
Locate the Rural Futures Institute in a rural town.
It's easy to conduct studies and intellectual exercises from an office in Lincoln, but the work takes on a sense of urgency when the shop down the street is closing or the town is in danger of losing mail service.
We know of several prime office locations, even right here in McCook.
Nothing could make a Rural Futures Institute more effective than giving it a vested interest in the future of rural Nebraska.