Small Town and Rural Economic Development: A Case Studies Approach

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

Introduction

Scott Loveridge and Peter V. Schaeffer

The case study approach of this book provides examples of what others have done in small town and rural development, and the opportunity to reflect on how strategies they have pursued might be adapted for use elsewhere.

Terms such as "rural areas" can easily mislead us into thinking of rural regions as homogeneous places. They differ from one another, however, in their ethnic makeup, industrial structure, topography, natural and human resources, climate, etc. ( Castle 1995). This collection reflects the diversity of rural areas and presents case studies from different industries, regions, and cultures.

Many people are aware of the great transition experienced by large cities since the middle of the twentieth century. The urban majority in industrialized countries is regularly confronted with suburban growth and aging neighborhoods in the central city and older suburbs. There is far less public awareness that rural towns have also undergone dramatic change. Retailing has not only declined in the downtown areas of larger cities, but also in the centers of many small cities and rural towns. Changes in manufacturing, such as just-in- time production and the loss of jobs to foreign countries, have had a large impact on rural areas. Since rural counties were relatively more dependent on manufacturing jobs than their metropolitan counterparts, the loss of manufacturing jobs has hit them particularly hard. As in urban job markets, many of the new rural jobs are also in the service sector, therefore sharing similar concerns about wage levels and job advancement opportunities. While the rural areas have some of the same concerns about how to adjust to the changing economy, it would be inappropriate to blindly transplant successful urban strategies to rural areas. Just as the human body may reject tissue transplanted from someone else unless great care is taken to ensure a good match, rural areas may borrow some strategies from their urban counterparts,

-xiii-

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