The Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group interviewed staff at the Region Five Development Commission as part of its research identifying “rural development hub” intermediaries as effective community and economic development partners in rural America.

The group has now published the final report of this research, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The report, titled “Rural Development Hubs: Strengthening America’s Rural Innovation Infrastructure,” focuses on the role of a set of intermediaries, like the Region Five Development Commission, that are doing economic and community development differently in rural America.

“Rural development hubs are main players advancing an asset-based and inclusive wealth-building approach to rural community and economic development in this country,” a news release stated. “The recommendations that emerged from (the group’s) hub interviews can help investors, policymakers and other decision-makers who have questions about rural America.”

“Our organization has been fortunate to learn and grow beside some of the nation’s best economic and community development practitioners,” Cheryal Hills, executive director of the development commission, said in the release. “In this report we are classified as a ‘Unicorn Regional Organization,’ which is fitting given that we are quite unique as a unit of government who also staffs a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, both committed to regional prosperity for all people. The report has been the first to accurately record this complex mix and the rural relevancy.”

To read more about rural development hubs and view the summary report, visit