In doing research for a presentation by an associate on strategic planning, I ran across the following excerpt from the study, Community Opinions on Economic Development in the South by Thomas W. Ilvento:
Rural residents in the South face a dilemma when looking at economic development. On the one hand there is a strong attachment to their community and their way of life. The respondents indicated they like the small town nature of their community, a sense of shared values, friendliness, and absence of traffic and pollution. However, they also recognize the need for growth and change. Residents were worried about jobs and the future, for themselves and their children. The aspects of the community that received the lowest ratings were for opportunities, recreation, and transportation, all of which could improve with new development.
As a result, rural residents were cautious about economic development. They supported most of the typical development strategies, but preferred some over others. In particular, self-help training programs were highest on the list. Interestingly, tax incentives, which is a dominant strategy used by state governments, received much lower support, with less than 40 percent in favor. Rural residents in the South indicated they were less supportive of growth that favored new residents over existing residents, and jobs that went to executives rather than to labor. The also had high expectations for new industry in terms of involvement in the community, education, further economic development, and cultural events.
Surveys on what prospective industry is looking for in a community identify a conflict. They look for incentives that help with upfront start-up or relocation costs and for deal ready sites. Also, prospective industry prefer a workforce with good basic skills, soft skills (a good work ethic like we have in Hickman County, communication skills, customer service skills, etc.) and for economic development training to be specialized and job specific.