Revitalizing Rural Economies

Revitalizing Rural Economies: A Guide for Practitioners

Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Revitalizing Rural Economies
    Book Description:

    Rural communities in Canada are facing a new reality where traditional economic bases such as agriculture, forestry, and manufacturing have eroded. The digital divide, whereby rural Canada lags in access to broadband, has created further barriers to participating in the emerging knowledge economy. Revitalizing Rural Economies offers practical tools for developers, business people, and community leaders. The result of a partnership between the Monieson Centre at Queen's School of Business and entrepreneurs, policy makers, economic development officials, and elected representatives from rural communities across southern Ontario, Revitalizing Rural Economies draws on four years of community-based research to provide strategies for economic revitalization. Integrating case studies and community development guidelines, the authors explore themes such as the building blocks for community economic development (CED), innovation, community assets, vibrant downtowns, social capital accumulation through collaboration and inclusion, and new opportunities for rural economies through creative and value-added businesses. Designed as a practical guide, this book serves as a primer to CED, while also allowing those familiar with the field to delve deeper. Case studies ground the discussion in the challenges and opportunities facing communities. The book provides ideas and resources to foster the long-term resilience of rural regions.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-8927-8
    Subjects: Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Yolande E. Chan

    The university has an important role to play in regional economic development¹ and should serve as a key partner in the local knowledge economy. While much university research and teaching is not applied or linked to local communities, other research conducted by faculty and students results in innovative, commercial products and processes. Students in service learning and other project-based courses apply newly gained knowledge in community settings. University members benefit as do community representatives.

    Today’s leading-edge universities view economic development as a key component of their mandate. They do not see this as a domain only for community colleges and...

  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-xvi)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
    • [PART ONE Introduction]
      (pp. 1-2)

      Rural and urban Canada are interdependent, particularly in metroadjacent rural regions. Canada’s balance of trade remains dependent on rural-based goods and much of its urban economy is linked to rural assets.¹ Traditionally, cities offered a concentration of specialized services, cultural and recreational venues, and educational and employment opportunities. In return, the countryside and adjacent rural towns and villages provided an important connection to the nation’s heritage and to outdoor experiences linked to a wealth of natural assets.

      The myriad challenges facing rural Eastern Ontario, discussed in the Preface, pose a challenge for traditional economic development approaches. In this text, we...

    • 1 Community Economic Development – Shifting the Focus to Local Self-reliance and an Innovation Economy
      (pp. 3-18)

      Community Economic Development (CED) involves a holistic planning approach. It shifts control of the local economy away from larger markets and remote decision makers towards local efforts. Economic development in communities is intimately connected with political, social, and environmental issues, and must consider all these. A structured approach to economic development is a priority for community stakeholders looking to grow their local economy in a sustainable fashion. Basic goals include increasing economic activity, improving employment prospects, and increasing the standard of living.

      Widespread support for CED in North America can be traced back to the economic recession of the early...

    • 2 Community Assets – Essential Building Blocks for CED
      (pp. 19-31)

      The CED approach to revitalization efforts discussed in Chapter 1 depends on community leaders understanding and prioritizing available resources. Leaders benefit from having a comprehensive and up-to-date inventory of community assets. These assets include capacities of individuals, institutions and organizations, and physical resources.¹ The process of generating an asset inventory has several commonly-used names including asset mapping, mapping community capacity, and identifying community assets.

      The creation of an asset inventory is of great value for a number of reasons. First, it presents community leaders with a broad and inclusive array of resources; this allows leaders to choose community development strategies...

    • 3 The Importance of the Downtown Core
      (pp. 32-42)

      Downtowns play a crucial role in the economic health of a town or city. Downtowns that are vibrant stimulate economic and business activity in the community and attract visiting tourists. A sizable share of a town’s or a city’s tax base is derived from its downtown economic activity. In addition, downtowns embody the heritage of a community and portray the image that people have of the town or city. Currently, an aesthetically pleasing downtown that is full of activity, particularly pedestrian activity, conveys a positive and attractive image of the community, which in turn attracts more visitors to the downtown...

    • [PART TWO Introduction]
      (pp. 43-44)

      A sustainable rural community “has enough economic, natural, human, and social resources to ensure it can be maintained and respond to period stresses.”¹ The ability of a community to mobilize its natural and economic capital resources depends on its development and use of human and social capital. Social capital is critical for societies to prosper economically and for their development to be sustainable.

      According to the World Bank, “social capital refers to the institutions, relationships, and norms that shape the quality and quantity of a society’s social interactions ... Social capital is not just the sum of the institutions which...

    • 4 Community Collaboration Techniques
      (pp. 45-54)

      As described in Chapter 2, creating a community asset inventory is an important step in the process to revitalize a rural economy. The community assets of talent and skills, resources and infrastructure must be linked and inter-connected to achieve real progress. This requires a shared vision and the ability to work together.Collaboration is necessary among communities to enhance their ability to attract new economic opportunities.Working across municipal boundaries, or with different sectors of the community (e.g., social service agencies and business), adds a layer of complexity and challenge to the process. Community leaders must understand the “art and...

    • 5 Strategies for Engaging Youth and New Canadians
      (pp. 55-70)

      Rural citizens participating in 2009–2010 Southern Ontario workshops identified more than 210 community development issues and challenges and ranked them in order of importance.¹ Youth retention ranked first as leaders noted the lack of opportunities for youth which makes retaining them in the community difficult. In second place, participants ranked the combined issues of skills training, education, and literacy, recognizing the need for better access to education and advanced skills training opportunities in rural communities. Labour migration and attraction ranked eleventh. A pool of skilled workers is a key ingredient to attracting new business growth. Communities are seeking new...

    • [PART THREE Introduction]
      (pp. 71-74)

      The creative economy is an important economic driver for rural communities. In addition to stimulating innovations, the knowledge-based economy is influencing traditional employment in the resource and manufacturing sectors. Technology is being utilized in new ways and traditional products are being modified by value-added processes. New technologies also require new or enhanced skill bases for employees. All this creates new rural economy dynamics and fosters entrepreneurial businesses.

      Small businesses and the jobs they create are critical for vibrant rural economies. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business reports that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) employ about 53 per cent of all...

    • 6 Supporting the “Creative Class” and Entrepreneurs
      (pp. 75-89)

      The creative class is made up of individuals employed in “science, engineering, arts, culture, entertainment, and the knowledge-based professions of management, finance, law, healthcare, and education.”¹ Richard Florida and his contemporaries argue that the creative class flourishes in places that offer the “Three Ts” of economic development – Talent, Tolerance, and Technology² – as well as a wide range of natural, cultural, and recreational amenities. This has translated into economic development strategies aimed at encouraging innovation, attracting highly-skilled workers, and promoting quality of place. Urban design features like street-scaping along with vibrant downtowns and an arts and culture scene are argued to...

    • 7 New Economic Opportunities from Skilled Trades and Value-added Thinking
      (pp. 90-116)

      While the creative economy offers rural communities opportunities for economic diversification and revitalization, there are yet many new economic opportunities to be found in traditional industries, including manufacturing, trades, agriculture, and forestry. In many of these sectors, however, skilled labour is becoming increasingly scarce. To harness the economic potential of these industries, then, rural communities must encourage skilled trades in the labour force. Likewise, it is crucial for traditional industries to adopt an entrepreneurial spirit to find new opportunities for profitability and growth in a changing, and increasingly global, marketplace. In this context, it is crucial for firms to develop...

    • 8 Capitalizing on Tourism
      (pp. 117-128)

      As described in Chapter 7, agritourism is an increasingly successful form of value-added agriculture. As a whole, tourism is an important sector in Ontario’s economy, contributing approximately $22 billion in revenue in 2007 alone. Composed primarily of small and medium-sized enterprises, the tourism industry is the largest employer of the province’s youth. Investments in tourist attractions pay off not only in terms of direct employment and revenue, but also indirectly in terms of supporting the growth of associated industries, such as transportation, and the construction of vital infrastructure. In acknowledgment of the tourism industry’s significance to the province, the Ontario...

    • [PART FOUR Introduction]
      (pp. 129-130)

      Across rural Canada, economic, cultural, institutional, and demographic changes challenge community leaders. Individual communities and regions struggle to create a sustainable future. In some areas, investments in infrastructure do not appear adequate to support the new rural economy.

      Infrastructure is most often defined as visible community assets: the transportation systems that move people, goods, and services, the bricks and mortar educational and health institutions that bring value to the community, and the emerging infrastructure of information and communications technology. Technological and societal advances have refined our thinking about infrastructure requirements and investments. The definition of “community infrastructure” has evolved to...

    • 9 Technology as the Foundation
      (pp. 131-138)

      Economic vitality in rural areas demands high-speed broadband Internet access, particularly in developing high-value sectors like the creative economy. In seeking to overcome economic downturns, governments around the world have made providing broadband access a priority, in some instances recognizing it as a basic human right.¹ Various government economic stimulus packages have invested in creating far-reaching networks to satisfy this objective.

      The Internet has become a primary means for personal and business communication, information exchange, and learning. However, rural communities can lack reliable Internet access. This poses a serious, detrimental hindrance to their sustainability and growth.

      Statistics Canada defines “rural...

    • 10 The Economic Role of Healthcare
      (pp. 139-146)

      Economic development (CED) professionals understand the importance of healthcare systems and services to potential new residents and businesses. “Is there a hospital?” “Can my family get a doctor?” “How far will I need to travel for specialist services?” These are routine questions asked by people who are considering relocating. Rural communities in Canada face a shortage of physicians. A recent study indicated that while 21 per cent of Canadians live in rural areas, only 10 per cent of physicians practice in these areas.¹ This shortage threatens not only the health and well-being of rural residents, but also the communities’ potential...

    • 11 Attracting New Investments in Rural Communities
      (pp. 147-156)

      Rural areas are often marked by low levels of financial investment, infrastructure, and business and government services. This constrained investment climate is a reflection of the relatively high costs of these services in rural communities, which in turn is often a function of low population densities, low levels of economic development, and the slow penetration of new commercial activities. As a result, rural areas often face decreased productivity and specialization, which in turn further hinders investment opportunities, even though rural areas offer advantages to investors for certain activities, e.g., those that benefit from lower labour and land costs.

      A number...

    • 12 Goods, Services, and People Movement
      (pp. 157-164)

      Rural transportation systems can increase accessibility to essential services, make travel easier, and increase the quality of life for citizens. Transportation systems can lead to lower commuting costs for residents, thereby increasing intercity travel and fostering the development of local and regional businesses.

      In order to create effective transportation models for an increasingly aging population, rural community leaders must address key challenges and be aware of the significant economic impacts of public transit.

      Senior citizens use public transit more than any other age group in Canada. Researchers estimate that Canadians sixty-five or older will make up approximately 25 per cent...

  10. Conclusion
    (pp. 165-168)

    Much of Canada’s potential is fostered or limited by its vast area and rural, often remote, communities. This guide has presented information from a multi-year project on “Revitalizing Rural Economies by Mobilizing Academic Knowledge,” led by Dr Yolande Chan, and coordinated by the Monieson Centre at Queen’s School of Business, Queen’s University. The Centre is committed to promoting Canada’s rural economy. This closing section summarizes the book’s contributions and points to related initiatives by the Centre and other Canadian organizations to improve the competitiveness of rural communities.

    The guide provided an overview of community economic development, pointing out new priorities,...

  11. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 169-170)
    • APPENDIX A Detailed Asset Inventory Categories
      (pp. 173-179)
    • APPENDIX B Youth Programming and Funding Organizations
      (pp. 180-185)
    • APPENDIX C Sample Newcomer Websites
      (pp. 186-186)
    • APPENDIX D Government-funded Immigration Programs
      (pp. 187-188)
    • APPENDIX E Government-funded Skills Training Programs
      (pp. 189-190)
    • APPENDIX F Ontario Travel Market Segments
      (pp. 191-195)
    • APPENDIX G Definitions of the Creative Economy
      (pp. 196-196)
  13. Notes
    (pp. 197-212)
  14. Index
    (pp. 213-217)