Rural Development: A Scan of Field Practice and Trends

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What must happen for economic development to foster a more prosperous, healthier, equitable and environmentally sustainable rural America? This scan of field practice begins with an overview of the main economic theories and policy frameworks that guide and influence the practice of economic development, particularly in a rural context. This leads to a presentation of the results of qualitative research on economic development practice and how it is evolving, based on a series of interviews with over 40 experts representing a range of perspectives on economic development. It concludes with a commentary on how economic development can foster a more prosperous, healthier, equitable and environmentally sustainable rural America.

A publication of Thrive Rural – an effort of the Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group in partnership with the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute with initial support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation – aims to create a shared framework and understanding about what it will take for communities and Native nations across the rural United States to be healthy places where everyone belongs, lives with dignity, and thrives. Thrive Rural intentionally brings into focus the convergence of racial, economic and geographic inequity in rural America. Thrive Rural elevates what works and what’s needed to bridge health with community and economic development, and connects the shared aims, reality and prospects of rural America with all of America.

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