Asset-Based, Sustainable Local Economic Development: Using Community Participation to Improve Quality of Life Across Rural, Small-Town, and Urban Communities




Kammer-Kerwick, Matt
Takasaki, Kara
Kellison, J. Bruce

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Applied Research in Quality of Life


We analyze survey data from 5,487 residents of 85 Texas communities, including rural communities, small towns, medium-sized cities, and the five largest urban centers, to model the influence of the degree of urbanity and rurality of a community as well as residents’ social position, values, and their satisfaction with local assets. The paper’s central argument is that a wide range of factors impact how community members think about their needs and thus should be considered in any community development process. This human-centered approach looks at how community specific factors impact economic and quality-of-life development project preferences in support of adapting community development decision-making processes according to the context of each community. For the sake of parsimony, this paper presents results for three community development project concepts: (1) renovating some downtown buildings as mixed-use facilities with retail shops and apartments, (2) opening a community health center, and (3) deploying gigabit high-speed fiber broadband internet in the downtown area. Our findings specifically highlight areas where participatory processes can be introduced to guide further interactions be- tween experts and community members to (1) identify groups in the community to bring into the process who may be most impacted by the choice of one intervention over another, and (2) target areas where further community discussion and deliberation is necessary around which community dialogues (round tables, town halls, workshops, etc.) could be facilitated.


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