During her career, economic development expert Della Rucker worked both in large and small towns. While she says community-driven development can happen anywhere, rural towns face unique challenges.
But they can develop strong economies, she said.
It may be tempting to put up some banners and flower pots, design a nifty logo and put window displays in vacant buildings, hoping economic development follows, but Rucker said that is rarely successful.
Instead, local governments can take leadership positions when community members are unable to move the needle on big challenges. Other times, government can be more of a feeder instead of a leader.
The difference is offering support instead of doing things local nonprofits and business owners can do themselves, she said.