Home on the Range: Heritage-Based Economic Development in a Natural Resource-Based Economy
Van Meter, Michelle Victoria
The modern American Mountain West is a contested space, environmentally and socially, and the natural and cultural amenities at the heart of the region’s economy act as both providers and dividers. What was once considered the “Last Frontier” is now touted as the “Last Best Place” for its rugged landscapes and small-town sensibilities. Overtime, the perspective on how to utilize these resources has changed and rural areas dependent on extractive industries have had to adapt in order to survive. Through the lens of White Sulphur Springs, a town of 925 residents in Central Montana, this work explores the ways in which remote communities in the West adapt in the face of a changing regional narrative. White Sulphur Springs represents a community at a crossroads. Despite its newfound identity as an off-the-beaten-track vacation destination, its history and economy are firmly rooted in natural resources. This thesis demonstrates that the key to success for these communities is to take advantage of growth opportunities that are consistent with the post-industrial trajectory of the region’s economy. Locally-focused programs, such as Main Street Montana, can help towns achieve this by highlighting their natural resource-based heritage.
Preservation; Area planning & development; Economic Development; rural
Tomlan, Michael Andrew
Chusid, Jeffrey M.
City and Regional Planning
M.A., City and Regional Planning
Master of Arts
dissertation or thesis