Stephan J. Goetz, Guest Editor
In the current jobless recovery policymakers often feel pressure to create jobs within their communities. Yet there are important limits to what policymakers can actually accomplish, and policies are sometimes oversold. This theme issue reviews promising approaches as well as limits to alternative job creation strategies.
Recently, communities have initiated or strengthened their economic development activities. The development goals of the community or the local development capacity are often ignored. The Area Sector Analysis Process (ASAP) offers a system that incorporates community development preferences, local land assets, and the requirements of industries and their community benefits.
Much has been made of the need to "recapture our country's entrepreneurial spirit." We discuss differences in entrepreneurial attitudes across regions. We then inventory locally-based approaches currently used to assist entrepreneurs, and present strengths and weaknesses of the various local approaches. Finally, we suggest policies to strengthen entrepreneurial outcomes.
A great deal of emphasis has been placed on entrepreneurs as a way to stimulate economic growth. Indiana in particular has focused on new venture creation. Entrepreneur programs were created based on two surveys conducted to understand how Purdue could increase the number of viable small businesses in Indiana.
Many rural communities are looking beyond traditional economic growth and development strategies and are seeking new insights and innovative ideas. Building on economic clusters, a framework for helping communities identify potential targeted industries is outlined. Using the strategy of import substitution and input-output analysis an outreach educational focused program is developed.
Workforce skills are an important ingredient for regional vitality in the new economy. Rural areas have an overabundance of low-skilled occupations, and they lag behind the U.S. economy in the presence of high-skilled workers. These trends explain the urban-rural wage gap, and will likely result in slower rural employment growth.
Community leaders can transform their regions by reorganizing their "civic economy," the nonprofits, development organizations, and educational institutions, into networks that focus on strategic doing rather than strategic planning. This article presents a strategic doing case study, including lessons learned and implications for policymakers and community leaders.