Survey of Rural Challenges news

What small town people see as their biggest challenges

What is the Survey of Rural Challenges?

The survey is a project of SaveYour.Town and, and it is open for responses every other year. People participate mostly from across the US, Canada and other countries including Australia, the UK and New Zealand. Since 2015, over 2200 people have answered the survey. 

The results are shared at both websites as public reports, infographics, presentations and articles. All the previous editions of the survey as well as all press mentions and presentations are listed below.  

Preliminary 2024 survey results now available

You can see the top 5 rural community challenges and top 5 rural small business challenges, along with some quick charts.

See the preliminary results here.

2023 results

Survey of Rural Challenges 2023 by debworks

Full 2023 results

See the full 2023 results, infographic and PDF report here.

I wait every other year for the results of this rural survey to help us align our work at Crowdfund Better with what rural businesses need. Thanks to Becky McCray and Deb Brown of SaveYour.Town for your dedication to putting this report together that reflects the challenges felt by real people who live and work in rural communities.

Kathleen Minogue

Crowdfund Better, Idaho

Since 2015, over 2000 people answered the Survey of Rural Challenges. It uncovered big disconnects between what rural people want and what media, service providers and policy makers provide.

  • Services and assistance commonly offered to rural people don’t match up with what rural people say they want help with.
  • Common themes in media coverage and policy conversations around rural communities don’t match rural views.
  • What urban and suburban people think of rural challenges is tinged by stereotypes that don’t agree with what rural people are thinking.


The Survey of Rural Challenges is open every other year. Responses were collected online from subscribers and visitors to SaveYour.Town and, from media coverage and cooperating groups that publicized the survey. 

Respondents identified themselves as rural by completing the survey, and a portion identified themselves as business owners by responding to the business question. Participants included people from the USA, Canada, Australia and other international locations.

Based on SaveYour.Town customer data, most respondents likely serve as community leaders and officials, work in community and economic development, own their own businesses, work in a community-oriented business or volunteer informally in their community. 

The survey is applied research based on a consistent survey protocol that supports data-driven conclusions. Similar to phenomenology, the people within the situation describe their own experiences, and there is a consensus of experiences amongst the participants or informants.

I am impressed with your research instincts for structure, valid iterative qualitative evaluation of the data you collect, and honesty with the results.

Malinda Hendricks Green, PhD

Retired Professor, Education and Professional Studies
University of Central Oklahoma

Press and Media Information

The 2023 survey results are available here.

See analysis of 2015 – 2021 rounds of the Survey of Rural Challenges 

The 2021 survey results are available here.

The 2019 survey results are available here.

The 2017 survey results are available here.

The 2015 survey results are available here.

Important reading for any Economic Development professional serving a rural or small town community.

Clark Hoskin

Deloitte Canada

Media coverage



Presented to National Rural Housing Conference, poster session, October 24 – 27 in Washington DC

Presented to West Virginia Brownfields & Main Street Conference, poster session, September 12-14 in Wheeling, WV

Becky McCray presents Survey of Rural Challenges to Dr. Mark Balschweid of University of Nebraska-Lincoln at the poster session at Oklahoma State University's Rural Renewal Symposium
Becky McCray shares the Survey of Rural Challenges with Dr. Mark Balschweid of University of Nebraska-Lincoln at the poster session at Oklahoma State University’s Rural Renewal Symposium

Presented to Rural Renewal Symposium, Oklahoma State University, poster session, November 2-3 in rural Oklahoma 

Presented to Teeny Tiny Town Summit, Northwest Oklahoma Alliance, Q&A session, October 10, Woodward, OK

Presented by Gus Wagner to Missouri’s Electric Cooperatives communicators

Presented by Andrew Van Leuven, Assistant Professor, Oklahoma State University, to combined civic groups in Alva, Oklahoma



Presented to Oklahoma State University Rural Renewal Symposium

Presented to National Rural Electric Cooperatives Association five Regional Meetings nationwide






  • Rural Town Development: A Case Study of Gort, County Galway, National University of Ireland, Galway, School of Geography and Archaeology, dissertation by Christopher Fahey




This is great data! I’m working on a needs assessment of rural small business owners in relation to digital media this summer. I’m hoping to use the results to inform my Extension efforts. The insight from your survey is very helpful. Thanks for sharing!

Headshot of Audrey King

Audrey E. H. King, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Agricultural Communications and Digital Media State Extension Specialist, Oklahoma State University

About SaveYour.Town

SaveYour.Town believes small towns can be saved by their own people using their existing assets. Deb Brown and Becky McCray joined forces in May 2015 to help small towns and rural communities thrive. They deliver speeches and presentations internationally, lead site visits and community brainstorming sessions, and create online videos and short courses of practical steps that can be put into action right away.

About Small Biz Survival publishes practical articles for rural small businesses. It was founded in January 2006 by Becky McCray from Oklahoma. Over the years, it has achieved top ranking among small business blogs on sites like Technorati, Invesp BlogRank and BizHumm, and it continues to appear on lists of top small business blogs. For her work as publisher, McCray has been named one of the Power Players in Technology Business Media and a Small Business Influencer Journalist four times.

About Becky McCray

Becky McCray is a lifelong small-town entrepreneur. As co-founder of Save Your.Town, she shares insights from her real-world experience as a business owner and cattle rancher. Throughout her career, rural has been the focus. She managed a retail store, served as city administrator and nonprofit executive, bought and sold antiques and taught classes in business and technology. Her practical perspective is featured at her highly-ranked website, Small Biz Survival, and in her award-winning book, Small Town Rules. She’s been featured and quoted in books, newspapers, magazines, blogs, podcasts and university publications. She makes her home base in Hopeton, Oklahoma, a community of 30 people. 

About Deb Brown

Deb Brown is a small town enthusiast and expert for small towns. Her practical approach for getting communities into action right away has been shared at national conferences, local visits, service organizations and everything in between. Her wealth of experience includes foreign casualty insurance underwriting, bartending, retail management, selling knives around the US, leading a chamber and working with small towns. Deb has lived in tiny towns, small towns, small cities and a major metro city. Yet, she’s come home to a small town and travels to many other rural communities to help. She collaborates with Becky McCray at and has her own business

Photos and Logos

Survey of Rural Challenges
The Survey of Rural Challenges is brought to you by Becky McCray and Deb Brown, and by and SaveYour.Town

Website and social media links

Survey Results and News Room:


LinkedIn: Small Biz Survival, SaveYour.Town

Twitter: @SBSurvival@SaveYourTown

Instagram: @SaveYourTown

Facebook: Small Biz SurvivalSaveYour.Town

For more info contact

Becky McCray


Deb Brown