State and Local Government Review
The complex and dynamic nature of rural-urban interactions tests the capacity of existing governance structures to address pressing regional challenges. There have been decades of efforts to employ regional mechanisms that embrace cross-functional and cross-jurisdiction approaches, ranging from formal authorities to collaborations of local governments and civic organizations to more informal networks. As these have sought to wrestle with issues of limited technical and fiscal capacity and of fragmentation of structures, policies, and resources, they have been challenged by concerns about the loss of local autonomy as they pursue regional collective action. However, with growing concern about rural-urban dissonance and divides, regional collaboration may offer a powerful and intentional way of addressing rural-urban disparities. This paper explores how issues of governance, collaboration, and regional imbalances and inequities are being addressed by innovative regional efforts to improve outcomes for everyone, rural and urban.