Current research on non-metropolitan and rural employment patterns has on the whole two strands. One involves investigation of numerical data on employment tendency, whilst the other is rather more tentative and subjective and suggests that innovative technologies like the PCs, fax machines, the easy access of Internet, satellite TV are making sure more businesses and persons to choose rural locations like Colorado. Research addressing employment trends in the late 1970s found little to support the view that non-metropolitan c?unties were gaining employment from high technology industries (Clark, 129).
However, research on trends in the 1980s suggests that high technology industries have been spinning off some of their manufacturing operations to non-metropolitan c?unties and that free-standing plants are choosing to locate in c?unties more distant from metropolitan are?s than branch plants (White, 836). Because services in the information age are likely to be more footloose than manufacturing, one possibility is that service industry expansion is driving non-metropolitan growth.
? study of services employment, however, found that producer-oriented services continued to be heavily concentrated in large metropolitan are?s in 1984 (Miller and Bluestone 1988). This conclusion is supported for the Pacific Northwest Region in research by Muth and others who find little evidence of decentralization in producer services (Muth, 124). Research having ? more loc?l focus paints ? more vibrant picture of rural growth. In his work on the Yellowstone region, Barkley (p30) suggests that economic expansion is being driven by footloose investment and retirement incom?, self-employment, and loc?l services.
Barkley finds the traditional export-oriented extractive sector to be ? declining source of incom? and employment and argues that loc?l services constitute an expanding share of economic activity and can foster loc?l economic expansion as ? result of ? shift toward loc?lly supplied goods and services. In work on the same region, Rasker and his colleagues argue that footloose information age entrepreneurs producing goods or services for export outside the region are locating in the Yellowstone are? in order to enjoy access to the abundance of loc?l amenities (Mills, 14). Conclusion
Just as population decentralized historically from city to suburb and in the process created ? negatively sloped population density gradient within metropolitan are?s, population now appears to be decentralizing from metropolitan to rural c?unties in the Mountain West in such ? way as to create negatively sloped density gradients focused on large regional metropolitan centers. Moreover, population density gradients are mirrored by both employment and incom? density gradients. The attraction of the rural mountain c?unties appears to be access as well as created and natural amenities.
Population density patterns in these c?unties suggest ? desire to live apart from large metropolitan are?s without completely severing ties to them. The pattern of development appears to be wave-like, with more accessible c?unties experiencing greater population density growth. In the past twenty years, c?unty of Colorado has begun employing what Knight terms “new wave” economic development strategies. These demand-side investments include activities designed to stimulate loc?l entrepreneurial growth and strengthen the loc?l workforce.
Business incubators, revolving loan funds for loc?l businesses, business management assistance, and worker training all fall into this category. ? large number of jobs in the U. S. each year are created in small businesses, and “home grown” businesses tend to be more loyal to the loc?l community (Muth, 125). Small firms are also credited with enhancing the skill levels of an are? workforce and contributing to the resilience of the loc?l economy of Colorado (Mills, 15). Therefore, investment in these approaches to job creation may have ? more lasting effect on loc?l economic development (Knight, 198).
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