Business and Community Approaches to Rural Development: Comparing Government-to-Local Approaches


  • Lars Larsson Umeå University
  • Tony Fuller University of Guelph
  • Carolyn Pletsch University of Guelph


The Canadian Community Futures Program and the European Union program for rural development, LEADER, are similar in their ambitions to boost rural development at community level through state intervention. Each program offers universal coverage, external funding and a set of regulations to be adjusted to local circumstances through local action. Economic development and an increased local capacity to act are important ambitions. When comparing the two programs differences become evident. The Community Futures focus on short term business development through revolving loans, counseling and community projects, whereas LEADER have a mid- to long term perspective in creating development oriented networks through project funding. In evaluating and learning from these programs, this paper argues that mainly core objectives (economic and employment outputs) are measured and accounted for whereas outcomes such as community performance, leadership development, community cohesion, confidence building and youth engagement often are neglected. The latter are of greater importance for the continued pursuit of establishing learning communities. Keywords: rural development, community economic development, rural governance, Community Futures, LEADER