Coming back from economic despair: Case studies of small- and medium-size American cities

Henry J. Mayer, Michael R. Greenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


The authors examined a geographically and economically diverse group of 34 small- and medium-size communities that experienced long periods of economic prosperity built around a major industry or company and that then suffered economic declines when those industries substantially reduced their workforces and in some instances closed. The authors' interviews with local officials and community leaders found that the response to this weakened economic position was typically delayed: Often, a decade or more was required before a plan of action to attract new business and diversify its employment base was developed. Environmental and labor stigmas also had to be overcome. These places provide a valuable insight into what may lie ahead for other small- and medium-size communities that could be affected by the loss of a dominant employer and others that may be faced with economic stagnation. The lack of leadership and a shared vision within a community is likely to prove economically disastrous.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)203-216
Number of pages14
JournalEconomic Development Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Urban Studies


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