Communities look to second growth

September 22, 2005, vol. 34, no. 2
By Marianne Meadahl

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Four B.C. communities hard hit by tough economic times are getting back on their feet - call it second growth - by taking charge of their future economic development.

Working together with a team of researchers from SFU's centre for sustainable community development, residents of Salmon Arm, 100 Mile House, and First Nations communities at Bella Coola and Lillooet re-examined their economic needs and developed their own visions and strategies. Those efforts and the rationale behind them are detailed in a new book, Second Growth, Community Economic Development in Rural British Columbia, written by the SFU team.

“Rural communities in B.C. continue to face multiple pressures on their economies,” says co-author John Pierce, SFU's dean of arts and social sciences.

“From a policy perspective to address these issues, the book shows that neither a purely top down or bottom up approach to rural development is effective. Policy to support economic development in rural community needs to adopt a blended approach between top-down support and bottom-up initiative and participation.”

The book helps to illustrate how such a blended approach to rural development is possible.

“All of these communities have been on slightly different paths, but the process of getting on track has been quite similar,” adds assistant professor Sean Markey. “They all have had to undergo a shift in mindset, to view economic development as something that was theirs and to take responsibility for it.

“The result has been a more positive climate in these communities, and a feeling of being more empowered.”

In Salmon Arm, the community has formed a successful economic development corporation.

In 100 Mile House, a community arts centre was created after the community lost its bid to have a forest licence awarded.

Both First Nations communities, including the Nuxalk Nation at Bella Coola and the Upper St'at'imc Nation, near Lillooet, are involved in ongoing land use planning and economic development projects.

The stories of these communities and their attempts at turning their economy around are highlighted in the book.

“Community economic development doesn't have a long research legacy, but it's a rapidly expanding field and we've outlined its growth and development,” adds Markey.

Second Growth is written by Markey and Pierce together with the centre's director Mark Roseland and member Kelly Vodden, and is targeted at educators, policy makers and the general public.

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