Who governs? And why? How do they govern? These remain vital questions in the politics of our small cities and towns. In this new book, author Daniel Bliss takes issue with those who believe that small towns and cities are fatally vulnerable to the pressures of a global economy. Based on in-depth analyses of small town America, this book demonstrates how political agency can address and solve real problems affecting US towns, including capital flight, industrial closures, and job losses. Bliss illustrates how small localities exercise choices – such as nurturing local businesses and developing infrastructure rather than engaging in a "race to the bottom," heavily mortgaging tax revenues to attract large box retailers and small box call centers while passively watching more productive firms and better-paying jobs slip away.

Taking careful account of comparative literature as well as variations in city governments, their planning agencies, and their relations with state authorities, this book explores the ways in which local politicians and public planning bodies can mobilize local constituencies to weather global challenges and common structural problems such as unfavorable demographics, skill shortages and out-migration. Economic Development and Governance in Small Town America holds out the promise of meaningful democratic change even in unfavorable political and economic circumstances.

chapter |17 pages


chapter 2|21 pages

The Economic Context of Municipalities

chapter 3|19 pages

Institutional Frameworks

Intergovernmental Support and Bureaucratic Organization

chapter 4|39 pages


Infrastructure Delivered, Governance Contested

chapter 5|31 pages

Hibbing, Minnesota

The Evolution of Activist Development

chapter 6|27 pages

Sterling and Rock Falls, Illinois

Reform and Recovery?

chapter 8|13 pages