A restored trolley line attracts thousands each year to the town of Astoria.
Volume X | Issue 2 | Fall 2010
Cover Story

Shared vision drives economic vitality

It’s almost impossible to read the news and not find a story about a community in trouble. We hear about high unemployment rates and low graduation percentages, empty storefronts and crowded food banks. And yet, at the same time we hear about communities that are making it—expanding and attracting businesses, providing activities for their youth, and developing resources for their older population. How do some areas prosper in hard times, but others wither away? And most importantly—how can you make sure your town is one that flourishes? 

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Community Vitality is published twice a year (in a printed format and online) for community leaders by The Ford Family Foundation.

Anne Kubisch, President; Nora Vitz Harrison, Editor; Megan Monson, Assistant Editor.

The purposes of this publication are to share information about building communities; to encourage individual development; to increase awareness of resources; and to share success stories. Please help us make this publication a valuable resource by sharing your comments or ideas. The views expressed by the authors in bylined articles are not necessarily the views of the Foundation.

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A trolley travels the waterfront

Shared vision drives economic vitality

It’s almost impossible to read the news and not find a story about a community in trouble. We hear about high unemployment rates and low graduation percentages, empty storefronts and crowded food...  Read More

A sign says "Come in we're open"

Develop people to develop jobs

During the 1992 presidential campaign, Bill Clinton’s campaign advisor James Carville coined the phrase “It’s the economy, stupid.” Carville wanted to keep Clinton and the staff focused on what was...  Read More

Two workers install a solar panel on a roof

A historical perspective

Our knowledge about what drives economic change continues to evolve, but knowing where we’ve been is essential to figuring out where we are going. Economic development practice in the United States...  Read More

The front of an attractive brick building

Cultural center brings change

Five years ago, the Chehalem Cultural Center was just another abandoned building. A former school, the 40,000-square-foot-building sits smack dab in the middle of downtown Newberg.  In 1997, the...  Read More

Man and woman display baked goods

Fresh idea leads to fresh products

Catherine and Wes Caudle knew it wouldn’t be easy starting their own Bend-based business in the middle of a recession, with the region’s unemployment rate hovering above 14 percent. But their dream...  Read More

Couple sets up a tent with mountain in background

Don’t underestimate liveability

When Stuart and Chris Freedman decided to move their thriving bead business from Southern California in the early 1980s, they knew what they wanted their new home to look like. “The first criteria...  Read More

A colorful mural adorns a brick building

Rethinking the way we grow jobs

We often ask how to attract businesses to locate here. But what about growing businesses that already call Oregon home? The current economic crisis requires us to hone and rethink business...  Read More

A bicyclist pedals alongside a road stretching to the horizon

From roads to wires to water

The economic prosperity of a community depends heavily on a strong infrastructure including roads, utilities, waterways, healthcare facilities and airports. Without these essential components,...  Read More

Workers dump barrels of grapes into a tote

Community colleges focus on workforce

A lot of businesses wish their production and administrative processes were more efficient. In Douglas County, a trio of disparate companies did more than wish—they teamed up with Umpqua Community...  Read More

People in lederhosen march in a Bavarian-themed parade

Know your strengths

Why do some communities thrive while others fail? Writer Jack Schultz takes a close look at small-town America as he searches for answers in Boomtown USA: The 7½ Keys to Big Success in Small Towns.  Read More

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