The Economic Survival of America's Isolated Small Towns: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Economic Survival of America's Isolated Small Towns

1st Edition

By Gerald L. Gordon


263 pages | 103 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781482248821
pub: 2015-06-26
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The economic history of the recent decade has been volatile at best, and devastating at its worst. The effects have tended to be most severe in the small, isolated towns of America. The Economic Survival of America's Isolated Small Towns presents a detailed discussion of the economic challenges facing these small towns, looking at why some have survived, while others have not. Through 51 case studies, this book gives a voice to the real, living realities and administrative strategies of small-town America.

The Economic Survival of America's Isolated Small Towns focuses on towns that have fewer than 10,000 residents and are further than 50 miles from another larger city. Based on interviews with the leaders of 51 small towns, the author shows how to plan and implement economic growth strategies, equally applicable to those communities that are trying to retain their strength as to those that are trying to rebuild following a downturn. The case studies convey, from one town leader to the other, which actions fail and which succeed.

Following the case studies, the author presents concluding thoughts, looking at topics such as:

  • Relevance of lessons learned in micropolitan cities (population 10,000–50,000) to small, isolated towns
  • Impact of enabling technologies on small-town survival
  • Advantages to employers in small, isolated towns
  • Feasibility for small towns to build the required facilities and infrastructure that might attract potential employers
  • Whether it is beneficial for the US to prop up struggling small towns artificially

The Economic Survival of America's Isolated Small Towns presents basic lessons learned by these small-town leaders that can benefit leaders in other towns as they confront similar issues and situations. Those charged with establishing public policy—either at the federal or state levels—should find the conclusions valuable as they plan for the next generation of public economic policies.

Table of Contents



About the Author


Previous Research

What Is a Small City or Town, and Who Lives in Them?

What Does It Mean for a Small Town to Be Isolated, and Why Is That Important?

Selecting the Case Study Cities

Similarities and Dissimilarities between the Economic Forces and Solutions Facing Large Cities and Small Towns

Fifty-One of America’s Small and Isolated Cities Examined

Northwest Region

Emmett, Idaho

Rupert, Idaho

Lewistown, Montana

Lincoln, Oregon

Ephrata, Washington

Cody, Wyoming

Douglas, Wyoming

North Central

Algona, Iowa

Detroit Lakes, Minnesota

International Falls, Minnesota

Montevideo, Minnesota

Holdredge, Nebraska

Sidney, Nebraska

Valley City, North Dakota

Great Lakes

Carmi, Illinois

Kingsford, Michigan

Ashland, Wisconsin

Rice Lake, Wisconsin


Caribou, Maine

Titusville, Pennsylvania


Arab, Alabama

Hamilton, Alabama

Thomaston, Georgia

Kosciusko, Mississippi

Brevard, North Carolina

Roxboro, North Carolina

Covington, Tennessee

Lexington, Tennessee

McKenzie, Tennessee

Galax, Virginia

South Boston, Virginia

Elkins, West Virginia

South Central

Pocahontas, Arkansas

Colby, Kansas

Fort Scott, Kansas

Charleston, Missouri

Chillicothe, Missouri

Perryville, Missouri

Breckenridge, Texas

Elsa, Texas

Pecos, Texas

West and Southwest

Winslow, Arizona

Fort Bragg, California

Yreka, California

Delta, Colorado

Gunnison, Colorado

Lamar, Colorado

Salida, Colorado

Winnemucca, Nevada

Taos, New Mexico

Vernal, Utah


The Relevance of Lessons Learned in Micropolitan Cities to Those That Are Small and Isolated

Will Technology Enable Small Towns to Survive?

Are There Advantages for Employers in Small, Isolated Cities?

Why Should We Care about America’s Cities That Are Small and Isolated?

Special Considerations for Small, Isolated Cities and Towns

The Brain Drain and Postsecondary Education

If You Build It, Will They Really Come?

A Special Case Study: Raton, New Mexico

What Happens to a City without Jobs?

Interview with Paula Murphy, Publisher of the Raton Range

Issues for Future Economic Growth, by City and Region



Internet Citations


Unpublished Papers


About the Author

Dr. Gerald L. Gordon is the president and chief executive officer of the Economic Development Authority in Fairfax County, Virginia, one of the largest office space markets in the United States. Dr. Gordon holds a bachelor’s degree from The Citadel, a master’s degree from George Washington University, and a doctorate in international economics from the Catholic University of America. He is also the author of 13 books and numerous articles on strategic planning and economic development. His most recent books are Reinventing Local and Regional Economies (2011) and The Formula for Economic Growth on Main Street America (2009).

Virginia Business Magazine named Dr. Gordonthe 2010 Virginia Business Person of the Year, and Leadership Fairfax, Inc., named Dr. Gordon the recipient of its 2011 Northern Virginia Regional Leadership Award.

About the Series

Public Administration and Public Policy

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