Thinking better about rural wealth creation and retention
Keywords:Community Capitals, Community Economic Development, Wealth Creation, Rural, Rural Economies, Community Development, WealthWorks
For some decades now, the practices of economic and community development have increasingly intertwined. This has largely involved a rebalancing of the economic and community portions of the mix to give increasing prominence to the community side of the ledger. In their decade-and-a-half-old article, Rethinking Community Economic Development, Shaffer, Deller, and Marcouiller (2006) illustrated this in their classification of successive waves of dominant community economic development (CED) theory and practice: export base, business retention and expansion, collaboration and partnership driven, and cluster development.
Shanna Ratner’s 2020 book Wealth Creation: A New Framework for Rural Economic and Community Development comes from one of the leading developers and practitioners of a fifth-wave approach that is beginning to lay a legitimate claim to the respect of academics, professionals, and community members alike. In 158 pages, Ratner’s slim and accessible volume does an admirable job of summarizing a synthetic approach that is both informed by theory and steeped in decades of participant-observation and learning-by-doing. The author, often addressing the reader as “you,” as if in the training workshops she has frequently provided, explicitly aims at writing for those with few degrees of separation from CED practice: “policy makers, practitioners in economic and community development, teachers, students [including undergraduates, I would specify], financers and funders…” (p. viii). . . .
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