As a result of the 2008-2010 economic crisis as well as continuing efforts to redevelop and revitalize local economies, public administrators across America are challenged with the task of developing methods to sustain their economies.
According to Florida (2002) economic growth today is contingent upon a locality's ability to attract a certain group of people, particularly those of the "creative class". Furthermore, Florida et al., (2006), assert that universities are key contributors to regional development in their ability to attract creative class individuals into a community. Contrary to the assertion that the creative class is a prerequisite for economic growth, researchers argue that additional economic development theories should be examined in comparison to the creative class theory. This study examines the creative class, human capital, social capital, and the institutional intellectual capital theories to determine which is the best predictor for economic growth in nonmetropolitan areas. This study also presents an additional theoretical framework, the community capital approach to provide a multi-dimensional examination of the quality of life and demographic factors that can aid local public administrators in understanding what impacts the economic growth and development of communities.
To assess this relationship, a multivariate regression analysis; specifically ordinary least squares regression is used to determine the strength of factors that influence the measurements of economic development.
The findings for the creative class theory provide marginal support for the assertion that the presence of the creative class leads to more economic growth. There is also marginal support for the human capital, social capital, and the institutional intellectual capital theories as predictors of economic growth in nonmetropolitan areas.
This research suggests that there are two paths that can be pursued by local public administrators to improve their economies. First, local public administrators with access to higher education institutions should focus their efforts on educating their workforce. Secondly, local public administrators from communities not equipped with higher education institutions should direct their strategies towards the community capital approach by creating more green space for parks and trails since these factors can be easily enhanced.