Asset-Based Economic Development

Asset-based economic development is a bottom-up approach to economic development that builds on existing local resources to strengthen local and regional economies. If differs from traditional needs-based economic development, which is focused on identifying gaps and deficiencies in the local economy. ICMA’s Center for Sustainable Communities has developed a series of downloadable Asset-Based Economic Development Briefing Papers. The series explores how small towns and rural communities can use asset-based economic development to build on their natural and working landscapes, local institutions, existing infrastructure, historic and cultural resources, industry clusters, and human capital. Advocates of asset-based economic development believe this approach fosters long-term, sustained economic growth; greater returns on local investment; improved job creation and retention; increases in per capital income; enhancements in the local tax base; and strengthened regional networks.

A Toolbox section on asset-based economic development describes ways this strategy in the First State and describes heritage tourism, eco-tourism, agritourism, coastal tourism, arts and cultural tourism, and culinary tourism.

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