Wealth Creation in Rural Communities
What do we mean by "community wealth" and how would we know it if we saw it?
In "Measuring Community Wealth," real world data from Appalachian Kentucky is used to illustrate how examples of six forms of wealth (individual, intellectual, natural, built, social, and financial) can be measured. From power plants to patents, local food to locally owned broadband, each section highlights opportunities to increase the stock of wealth in Kentucky counties. Connections between these opportunities are highlighted by case studies from Vermont and Kentucky of three on-the-ground projects that impact multiple forms of wealth. Throughout, the paper analyzes gaps in available data and highlights the need for communities and programs to plan for information gathering and sharing if they want to be more intentional about creating wealth.
For a more in-depth understanding of how multiple types of capital were assessed for this paper, "Measuring Community Wealth: Appendices" provides detailed analysis of the data from Appalachian Kentucky used in "Measuring Community Wealth." Turn to the appendices for information including county-by-county rates of healthy weight people and the financial costs of obesity; broadband access and computer use throughout the region, along with its effects on social patterns; patents held in Kentucky and strategies for increasing their use; local electric plant ownership and costs; household income, assets, and debt; and local farming, food, and agricultural inputs.
Wealth Creation in Rural Communities has been supported by the Ford Foundation since early 2008 in an exploration of a "wealth-creation" approach to rural economic development. The goal of Wealth Creation in Rural Communities is to create a framework for development that works economically, ecologically, and socially - making rural communities more economically competitive; preserving each region's ecological heritage; and drawing more people into the life of the community. It is hoped that this framework can help rural development practitioners craft strategies and create institutions that steward rural America's assets in more effective ways.
Links to all of the released papers are posted at www.yellowwood.org/wealthcreation.aspx.