Rural communities everywhere continue to confront different economic challenges. Some communities demonstrate a resilience during downturns and recover quickly, while others lag behind. A major study in Colorado explores why this is.
Meridith Marshall, Brian Lewandowski and Laura Blomquist led the way in creating the study titled RURAL ECONOMIC RESILIENCY IN COLORADO. It was published by the Colorado Office of Economic Development & International Trade in cooperation with the state’s Department of Local Affairs, Demography Office and the University of Colorado, Leeds School of Business.
The study serves as a useful resource for any rural community in any state. It shares Key Hurdles for Economic Resilience, what some of the Drivers of Resiliency are, and uses the cities of Salida and Durango as case studies. It observes “that for a community to be economically resilient there needs to be a mix of active community and business leaders with foresight. These individuals must develop and foster a culture of commitment, seizing opportunities and continually building businesses and the assets of a community. A community must identify their assets to build upon in order to attract people…”
It emphasizes that rural business growth is a continual process that evolves over time as circumstances change.
The document concludes with an Economic Resiliency Guide, encouraging rural communities to develop a clear vision of the future and how they want to grow, invest in community assets, take calculated risks, empower and grow leadership, invest in education and healthcare, create density and annexation policies that fit with the vision, and collaborate and work regionally.
I had a great conversation earlier this year with Meridith, Brian, and Laura, and they shared their experiences in working on this study and insights on what rural communities are doing to have successful and resilient economies.