1st Edition

Wealth Creation A New Framework for Rural Economic and Community Development

By Shanna E. Ratner Copyright 2020
    174 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    174 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    A new approach to rural development is emerging. Instead of being about attracting companies that might create jobs over which communities have no control, the emerging paradigm is about connecting the unique underutilized assets of place with market opportunity to grow assets that are owned and controlled by and for the benefit of low-wealth people and places. But asset development is about more than bricks and mortar or narrowly defined financial assets. There are many kinds of assets that communities require to thrive – such as social capital, natural capital, political capital, and intellectual capital. The emerging new approach to rural development is, then about broadening the definition of "wealth," engaging underutilized assets, and a key third element: harnessing the power of the market – rather than relying solely on philanthropy and government. Wealth Creation provides a conceptual guide with practical examples for policymakers, practitioners of economic and community development, community organizers, environmentalists, funders, investors, and corporations seeking a values-based framework for identifying self-interests across sectors that can lead to opportunities to transform existing systems for the collective good.

    Preface. Acknowledgments. 1. Introduction 2. What is Wealth? 3. What is a Wealth Creation Value Chain? 4. How Do Ownership and Control Change The Game? 5. What Does It Mean to Be Demand-Driven? 6. How Do We Connect with Investors? 7. Where Does Technology Fit Into Wealth Creation Value Chains? 8. Rethinking Measures of Economic Impact 9. The Roles of Wealth Creation Value Chain Coordinators and Coaches 10. Taking a Wealth Creation Approach to Scale Index.


    Shanna E. Ratner is the founder and principal of Yellow Wood Associates, a firm specializing in rural economic and community development since 1985. She was selected by the Ford Foundation to conceptualize and support implementation of a new approach to rural economic development that became WealthWorks. Ms. Ratner was trained in systems thinking as a member of the first class of Donella Meadows Fellows and has been a Mel King Fellow at MIT, and a member of the Aspen Institute’s Learning Cluster on Rural Community Capacity Building. She holds a MS degree in Agricultural Economics from Cornell University and a BA in Value Systems from New College in Sarasota, Florida, and lives in rural Vermont.

    "Shanna Ratner's new book Wealth Creation provides a road map for those who care about rural viability and who have been frustrated by the limited effectiveness of traditional economic development and social service approaches to improving rural economies and lives. Ratner's book chronicles the journey of wealth creation through the WealthWorks model and her many years of experience as a rural community and economic development practitioner, innovator and thought leader. This is an important book and brings both valuable tools and hope to those committed to revitalizing rural America."  —John C. Salo, Executive Director, Rural Health Network of SCNY, USA

    "The Wealth Creation Framework has been like a shot of adrenalin for our region! It has helped us focus on the various forms of wealth while empowering non-traditional stakeholders throughout the process. Our success implementing the Wealth Creation Framework has led us to integrate its framework into other systems change initiatives across our county." —Ryan Coffey Hoag, Land Use Educator, Michigan State University Extension, USA

    "With decades of practical experience working across the country, experimenting with different approaches to local economic development, Ratner has developed an approach as well as a world-view that succeeds in the transforming of communities and people. This book brings her work together in a readable and no-nonsense way that will allow others to use her work and vast knowledge as a springboard for understanding communities, what animates them, and how real community wealth and equity can be created. "  —Mark Lapping, Professor Emeritus of Policy, Planning, and Management, University of Southern Maine, USA

    This wonderful book by Shanna Ratner is an antidote to the thinking that our future prosperity depends on chasing smokestacks. Instead Ratner provides a road map for communities anywhere in the world to rebuild their local economies through producing what the market demands. The "multi-solving" approach she promotes helps communities build on the assets they have with a focus on creating and sustaining multiple forms of wealth. A must read for local government officials,  community economic development practitioners and policy makers. —Gord Cunningham, Executive Director, Coady Institute and Extension, St. Francis Xavier University

    "Ratner has laid out a thoughtful framework that, when the principles are applied, truly works.  Not only will it drive performance but it addresses the pressing issue of our time, a growing wealth inequality that threatens prosperity in our nation."—Jim King, President & CEO Fahe

    "This resource provides a roadmap for innovative economic development and wealth creation that starts from the ground up. It illustrates the power of collective impact and provides real-life examples of citizen-led, sustainable change. Shanna Ratner is an innovator in providing the "why" behind wealth creation that builds communities in a way that honors the environment, the people and the culture. This is a must-read for those who are looking for a measureable, values-based approach to bring about economic change in their community." —John K. Littles- Executive Director- McIntosh SEED, and Cheryl Peterson- Project Manager- McIntosh SEED

    "Rural America is fighting to build economies that are authentic and inclusive. Wealth creation is an applied approach that helps rural communities find their place within greater regional economies. I recommend it for development practitioners seeking a locally driven framework that works in rural." —Heidi Khokhar, Executive Director, Rural Development Initiatives, Inc., Oregon