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Over the last half-century, population decentralization in the U. S. has primarily manifested itself as ? movement from central city to suburb within metropolitan are?s. Since the 1970s, population migration to rural are?s with significant natural amenities has accelerated (Barkley, 25), especially in the rural c?unties of the Mountain West like Colorado. Historically, the residents of rural mountain c?unties relied heavily on the extractive industries, such as lumber and mining, for their incom?.

The attraction of the Mountain West is no longer access to extractible resources, but the beauty of the landscape itself and the abundance of outdoor recreation opportunities it affords. As tourism certainly produces employment in mountain c?unties like Colorado, anecdotal evidence suggests that relatively footloose incom? is the genuine driving power behind the loc?l economic growth of Colorado (Muth, 26). Purpose of the Study The goal of this paper is to establish the spatial determinants of economic development for rural mountain c?unty of Colorado.

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The specific determinants explored in the study include: population, employment, and incom? density in relevance with the economic development of Colorado. Economic Development: The Rural Context Due to differential loc?l capacity of rural are?s and the economic and demographic trends that continue to negatively affect rural communities (Barkley, 23), analysts have widely assumed that rural are?s will fall further behind urban are?s in loc?l capacity to undertake economic development initiatives in the face of globalization and changing governmental relationships.

Furthermore, analysts assumed that the more rural the loc?lity, the more disadvantaged it will be, partially due to low population density and remote location). Research on rural communities indicates that many loc?l governments are staffed by part time or volunteer leaders with little professional training (Williams, 239). Professional staff members, especially grant writers and economic development specialists, are critical of successful loc?l development efforts.

Insufficient personnel, inadequate administrative capacity, and lack of experience in negotiating tax abatements and managing business recruitment are seen to disadvantage rural loc?l governments (White, 817). Many other forces work against rural economic well-being of rural are?s of U. S. c?unties. Global labor markets continue to compete for “traditional” rural low wage rural manufacturing jobs (Barkley, 25). Out-migration of rural youth and the highly educated remain longstanding demographic trends in many rural communities (Barkley, 23).

Many rural communities are caught in ? financial vise with limited population size and density to provide adequate loc?l tax revenues (Williams, 239). Other communities are restricted by state limitations on their authority to tap loc?l resources. While it is widely assumed that rural are?s of Colorado will fall further behind other urban are?s, few comparative urban-rural analyses have empirically assessed the extent to which spatial disparities in the use of loc?l economic development strategies are occurring (Rasker, 58).

Research on the decentralization of economic development initiatives has focused mainly on states and urban municipalities (Williams, 241). As economic growth strategies expand at the loc?l level, researchers have assumed small and rural communities will have to compete against other rural and urban regions in offering financial incentives to new and expanding businesses (Williams, 251). Although ? growing literature acknowledges the increased role of loc?l and c?unty governments in economic development, empirical documentation remains sparse (Barkley, 25).

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