Small Town and Rural Economic Development: A Case Studies Approach

By Peter V. Schaeffer; Scott Loveridge | Go to book overview

He owns houses that he rents out to some of the people working at the mill. The general impression is that officials work for themselves, ifs me first and then the people of Forestville. We have major problems here. I hope that we can work together and get them ironed out so that we can make things better.

Concerning housing and property development, one young informant said "white people within the clique always develop properties and they make money off the development. For example, when the industry came here, the inner clique was involved in the development of the property and they made money off it." In a similar vein, another knowledgeable male resident argued that:

People try to bring things that will be of their own gain to Forestville and so they can make the money. Now, the mayor is a realtor. He is the owner of a realty company and he is also a licensed Alabama appraiser. When he helped in bringing the industry from Canada he gained in housing development and things like that. He owns the housing on Highway 28. You know, people in power, and I can't say how I'd do if I was in power and could stop something that was going to benefit me financially.

One informant thinks that there is too much corruption among elected officials because, he believes, officials always do things that will have immediate benefit for them. He said, "they do not want any development or growth that will benefit all or most of the community residents. They seek personal gains and interests." Lending support to this contention, the editor of a newspaper said:

We have some totally incompetent public officials. Ninety percent of them are concerned only with their own little agenda and that agenda is to stay in office and keep drawing the check for whatever office they hold and other benefits from any development they support in the community such as the industry they recruited a long time ago.


CONCLUSION

This case study tests some of the contentions of the growth machine hypothesis regarding economic development. Findings from Forestville, Alabama, support Molotch's contention that the community can serve as a "growth machine" for segments of the local elite. For example, consistent with Molotch ( 1976) prediction, ideology was used by elected public officials and some powerful residents to recruit the forest products company to this rural community. Benefits from the economic development efforts promised by public officials and some groups in this rural southern community are exclusionary. The development effort was aimed at generating profits for the elite with the promise of jobs used as justification for economic growth. The Pine Hill Associates sold their 750 acres of land to the company. This supports Molotch ( 1976, 309) assertion that "land is a market commodity providing wealth and power, and that some very important people consequently, take a keen interest in it." In an extended discussion, Molotch argues that growth profits those who control land in the community and that they have a common interest in promoting and gaining the rewards of growth. This seems to be true

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