Most researchers agree that participation in ? wide range of economic development programs has become increasingly necessary to promote loc?l economic growth (Roback, p1257). Knight has found that most municipalities employ ? range of economic development strategies that have been termed “traditional” development approaches. These strategies include use of tax abatements, investments in physical infrastructure, and other supply side activities designed to lure businesses to locate within loc?l c?unty borders.
This approach to economic development in perspective of rural Colorado has some liabilities associated with it, including the potential loss of tax revenues, the loss of “footloose” firms after tax abatements end in ? c?unty, and potential bidding wars with nearby c?unties. Many argue that tax abatements divert attention from more important factors affecting growth, including human capital investments, the quality of social and education resources in ? rural community, and other quality of life issues (Rasker, 62).
Tax abatements may also divert attention from existing businesses, the largest source of new jobs in most communities. Furthermore, it is possible that tax abatements may exacerbate the competitive disadvantage of depressed rural are?s of Colorado over time, including rural and small population are?s (Mills, 12). Rural loc?lities of Colorado may be uniquely positioned to work to avoid the bidding wars associated with interjurisdiction competition.
In contrast to city governments, c?unty governments have the opportunity to serve as regional governments and provide planning and coordination to reduce the costs associated with competition between municipalities (Williams, 252). Regional cooperation efforts can increase the power of loc?l governments in negotiating the demands of firms and interacting with the national government, and can provide economies of scale for training programs and other demand side activities, such as revolving loan funds and loc?l business support programs.
This is especially important for rural municipalities of Colorado that lack the population size or economic resources to administer their own programs. Despite the limitations to “traditional” economic development strategies, Colorado continues to invest in industrial parks, speculative buildings, and other infrastructure in the hope of luring ? firm to their community (Barkley, 23). According to Mills (p14) non-metropolitan c?unties are placing more emphasis on outside business attraction compared to the past five years (White, 817).
Rural c?unty governments vary tremendously in administrative capacity and potentially possess other characteristics that may offset apparent formal organizational deficiencies. Municipalities may demonstrate “community agency,” or the ability of loc?l community members to come together to address community-level issues (White, 819). As part of this, loc?l governments and communities can partake in other “extra-economic” activities that are associated with community economic development.
The literature on community social infrastructure and social capital suggests that ? community with an active civic sector, involving service clubs, volunteer groups, and development foundations, tends to be more successful in development activities. Communities with an active civic sector may possess ? high level of social capital that can be important for successful development efforts (Muth, 122). While it is important to examine differences in loc?l economic policy decisions across rural and urban c?unties like Colorado, it is also useful to study patterns across the broader economic landscape.
Such an exercise allows for the exploration of underlying patterns that do not relate to simple rural-urban geography and addresses the question of whether poorer communities with fewer resources are adopting economic development strategies at the same rate as those with greater resources. Loc?l socioeconomic factors may be associated with different loc?l policy approaches, either due to variable loc?l resources or support for skilled leadership or loc?l political-economic policy orientations (Barkley, 23).