Ohio's Urban, Suburban, and Rural Connection

Ohio has unique urban-suburban-rural connections. Various indicators in the state demonstrate a dynamic flow of people and other resources throughout all geographic areas along the urban and rural continuum. Many Ohioans live in one county, work in another, and enjoy recreation and tourism in other counties. Other flows are studied from various interrelated perspectives, such as land use, commerce, food, water, Internet access, waste, pollution, and the environment.

Research and opinion on interdependencies began decades ago and continues in today's society. Urban-rural interdependencies have been studied through varied lenses, from political, economic, social, and system-focused perspectives. Several different typologies distinguish classifications of urban, suburban, and rural. Operationalizing awareness, connections, and relationships along the continuum presents opportunities for engagement. The following cases provide insight into examples of lessons learned, as well as individual and community impacts.

  • Creating awareness of urban-rural interdependencies
  • Initiating connections among specific audiences with shared interests, yet diverse perspectives
  • Fostering relationships through comprehensive experiences that improve informed decision making related to interdependencies and impacts
  • Advancing trusted partnerships that advance shared missions and endure shifts over time

Ohio has a distinct urban influence. With 11.7 million residents, Ohio is the seventh most populous state in the nation. More than 50% of Ohio residents live in 10 of the 88 counties (Butler, Cuyahoga, Franklin, Hamilton, Lorain, Lucus, Mahoning, Montgomery, Summit, and Stark). Ohio has six cities with populations of more than 100,000 (Akron, Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland, Dayton, and Toledo). Only 12 other states have more cities of this size.

Ohio has an important rural influence. Thirty-two Ohio counties are part of the 13 state Appalachian Regional Commission. Thirty-one percent of Ohio is forested according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.  Rural Ohio is home to more than 75,000 farms across nearly 14 million acres. According to USDA Rural Development, sales of farm and ranch products contributed $10 billion to Ohio’s economy in 2012. Rural America at a Glance.

Ohio has unique urban-suburban-rural connections. Various indicators in the state demonstrate a dynamic flow of people and other resources throughout all geographic areas along the urban and rural continuum. Many Ohioans live in one county, work in another, and enjoy recreation and tourism in other counties. Other flows are studied from various interrelated perspectives, such as land use, commerce, food, water, waste, pollution, and the environment. The resource section below includes links for further details.

Strengthening cities, strengthens Ohio. With a presence in all Ohio communities, OSU Extension continues to advance engagement with rural, suburban, and urban Ohioans. Shifts in demographic characteristics, community conditions, and urban-suburban-rural interdependencies have resulted in unique strategies to bring people and ideas together in ways that are relevant locally, responsive statewide, and recognized nationally. Useful resources to illustrate these shifts include:

What is the meaning of terms such as city, metropolitan, and urban? 

The following definitions and classifications provide a basic framework to begin understanding some of the elements related to Ohio cities, counties, and regions. Total population, population density, and popluation shifts, such as growth or decline, can influence a geographic area's designation. In Ohio, urban and rural areas share many interdependencies.

Metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas (metro and micro areas) are geographic entities delineated by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for use by Federal statistical agencies in collecting, tabulating, and publishing Federal statistics. The term "Core Based Statistical Area" (CBSA) is a collective term for both metro and micro areas. A metro area contains a core urban area of 50,000 or more population, and a micro area contains an urban core of at least 10,000 (but less than 50,000) population. Each metro or micro area consists of one or more counties and includes the counties containing the core urban area, as well as any adjacent counties that have a high degree of social and economic integration (as measured by commuting to work) with the urban core.

Ohio Metro and Micro Areas, from the Ohio Development Services Agency.

Ohio - Rural and Urban Definitions.

The 2013 Urban Influence Codes form a classification scheme that distinguishes metropolitan counties by population size of their metro area, and non-metropolitan counties by size of the largest city or town and proximity to metro and micropolitan areas. The standard Office of Management and Budget (OMB) metro and non-metro categories have been subdivided into two metro and 10 non-metro categories, resulting in a 12-part county classification. This scheme was originally developed in 1993. This scheme allows researchers to break county data into finer residential groups, beyond metro and non-metro, particularly for the analysis of trends in non-metro areas that are related to population density and metro influence. An update of the Urban Influence Codes is planned for mid-2023.

The Census Bureau’s urban-rural classification is fundamentally a delineation of geographical areas, identifying both individual urban areas and the rural areas of the nation. The Census Bureau’s urban areas represent densely developed territory, and encompass residential, commercial, and other non-residential urban land use. The Census Bureau identifies two types of urban areas: Urbanized Areas (UAs) of 50,000 or more people; and Urban Clusters (UCs) of at least 2,500 and less than 50,000 people. “Rural” encompasses all population, housing, and territory not included within an urban area.

Resources

Urban-Rural Perspectives

Shifts in demographic characteristics, community conditions, and urban-suburban-rural interdependencies have resulted in unique strategies to strengthen the connection: 
What Unites and Divides Urban, Suburban and Rural Communities
The Conversation collected
six charts that illustrate the divide between rural and urban America

The Potential of Rural-Urban Linkages for Sustainable Development and Trade
Urban-Rural Connections: A Review of the Literature
The Rural-Urban Fringe in Canada: Conflict & Controversy
The Urban-Rural Divide in America - 5 Facts About the U.S. Suburbs
Smart Regions go beyond city limits - They seamlessly connect our urban cores to our suburbs and rural areas, improving quality of life and economic opportunity for all people, regardless of socioeconomic or geographical barriers.
Our Joint Future: Rural-Urban Interdependence in 21st Century Ohio
A Reportcard on Rural and Urban Ohio
What Is the Future of Town-Gown Relations?
Rural Communities in an Urbanizing World - Presented by Mark Partridge at the Challenges and Opportunities for Economic Development in Ohio Conference, May 8, 2019
The Urban-Rural Continuum and Connections - Presented by Elena Irwin at the National Urban Extension Conference, May 23, 2019

Transportation

Commuting in America and net commuter flow indicates urban-rural interdependencies
Rural-to-Urban Commuting: Three Degrees of Integration
Building Smart Cities In 2017 Will Begin With Transportation Infrastructure (interesting historical perspective)
Bringing Market Forces to the Transportation Equation

Environment

Urbal-Rural Interface: Linking People with Nature
Water Quantity and Quality at the Urban-Rural Interface
Droughts and the Struggle to Balance Urban and Rural Water Demands
The Urban-Rural Water Interface: A Preliminary Study in Burkina Faso