(1) 2014 Rural Establishment Innovation Survey (REIS)
(2) 2014 County Business Patterns (CBP)


Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture (REIS) and U.S. Census Bureau (CBP)

Research Topic

Rural economy and business statistics

Target Population

REIS: Non-agricultural, “tradable” business establishments with five or more employees;

CBP: An annual series that provides subnational economic data by industry.

Notable Features


  • First survey devoted specifically to investigating innovation in rural areas
  • Surveyed 11,000 business establishments, including performing arts organizations and museums
    • Representative of business establishments in both metropolitan (urban) and non-metropolitan (rural) areas
  • Captures information on a wide variety of business practices related to innovation and design use
  • Reports on the value business establishments assign to the arts and entertainment as a community feature to attract workers
  • Collects information about barriers effecting businesses’ abilities to compete


  • Reports the number of business establishments, employment, and payroll
  • Statistics are available at the U.S. level and by state, county, metropolitan area, and zip code
  • Useful for studying the economic activity of small areas; analyzing economic changes over time; and as a benchmark for other statistical series, surveys, and databases between economic censuses

Example Findings


  • Roughly 30 percent of both rural and urban arts/cultural organizations are “substantive innovators,” a term applied to businesses that engage in innovative activities such as producing new products and services and making data-driven decisions.
    • Rural/urban innovation parity is not evident in other service sectors such as information and finance and insurance.
  • 36.8 percent of rural arts organizations draw non-local audiences.
    • The corresponding share of urban organizations is 21.1 percent.
  • 36 percent of rural arts/cultural organizations say they provide “a lot” of civic leadership to their communities.
    • Only 24 percent of urban arts/cultural organizations provide that self-reported level of community support.
  • Two out of three business establishments report that arts and entertainment are either “somewhat” or “very” important as a community feature in attracting workers.



  • Ninety-eight rural U.S. counties were “emerging rural performing arts counties,” meaning they had no performing arts companies in 2004, but one or more in 2014.
  • Willacy County, Texas, reported the greatest gain as an emerging rural performing arts county. During the 2004-14 period, Willacy County went from having no companies to having three.
    • Other emerging rural counties include: Randolph County, West Virginia; Delta County, Michigan; and Laclede County, Missouri. These counties, and nine others, gained two performing arts organizations.

Data Availability

All REIS data underlying the findings are available but with restrictions mandated by the Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act (CIPSEA) that was invoked for the primary data collection activities. CIPSEA does not allow granting access to these data without an approved research proposal and a signed Economic Research Service confidentiality agreement. Access to these data are only available onsite at the Economic Research Service in Washington, DC.

CBP data are updated yearly and are available from the U.S. Census Bureau.