Small Towns, Big Ideas is the result of an intensive, yearlong effort to identify and document
the stories of small towns that are surviving – and, in some cases, thriving – as
hubs of civic and economic activity. This publication includes stories about planning
and implementing economic development strategies in 45 small towns with populations
of fewer than 10,000 residents. Half of the towns featured are from North Carolina,
and half are from other states. This collection of case studies is a response to the
demand from civic leaders in North Carolina for real stories, from real places that are
confronting real challenges similar to those facing small communities everywhere.
Stories are told in a narrative format and are intended to provide concrete ideas, inspiration
and hope to civic leaders working in small communities and to policy makers
dealing with rural development issues. The lessons section draws a series of conclusions,
from across all the case studies, about economic development in small communities.