Natural gas may take some of the load. “There is a wedge between gas prices and oil. That wedge will not last forever, but if it remains long-term, users will switch from gasoline to natural gas. But that will require infrastructure change.”

He said for rural America to continue to prosper it must “recognize that the consumer is king.” And that consumer is coming more and more from developing nations. “In 2008, almost half the world population survived on $2.50 a day. At $2.50 a day, most hunger problems are solved and people start improving their diets with protein.”

In the near future microwave ovens will be in high demand across the globe. “How will that change food markets? We will begin to ship higher value, processed foods, but the United States will not be the only country competing for those markets.”

Henderson said economic development “is about people ... Small rural counties really struggle. Generation X residents tend to leave at 19 years of age. When they get to their mid-30s and have families a few come back. But the counties that are able to bring in more middle-age families have better economies.” He believes rural America should encourage a pattern of leave, learn and return.

Rural America also needs to “boast about successes and the opportunities that exist. We need new skills. Companies moving in also want good schools, quality health care and opportunities for recreation.”