Agricultural and Resource Economics faculty Ivan Kandilov and Mitch Renkow are presenting research at the Economic Returns to Rural Infrastructure Investments held April 10-11, 2018 in Washington, DC.
USDA Deputy Secretary Steve Censky will keynote the workshop, hosted by Farm Foundation and USDA’s Economic Research Service. Researchers, economists and industry leaders will also participate. The research will address how rural infrastructure investments impact economic activity. Specific elements to be discussed include methods used to rank rural infrastructure investments, the role of benefit-costs analysis, models to estimate the value of infrastructure investments in cities, and data needs for estimating the rate of return on rural broadband investments. The workshop discussions will also help researchers and stakeholders identify practical research that exists or is needed on the economic returns of investments in rural infrastructure, including highways, bridges, railways, broadband, electrical systems, and water and sewer systems.
Kandilov and Renkow will discuss their findings on “Impacts of the USDA Broadband Loan and Grant Programs: Moving Toward Estimating a Rate of Return.” They use zip code level data on payroll and employment from 1997 to 2006 to estimate the impact of federal grant and loan programs aimed at increasing the provision of broadband internet across rural areas. The authors will also provide initial estimates on the rate of return on rural broadband investments and discuss data needs and program evaluation techniques that could be used in future research.