Sustainable Growth

Hand in Hand: Community Economic Development in Tupelo (1999)

February 19, 1999  • Vaughn Grisham and Rob Gurwitt

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It would be easy, contemplating the riveting story of Tupelo’s growth since 1940, to imagine that it is unique, engendered by a confluence of circumstances that cannot be repeated elsewhere. In one sense, of course, Tupelo is unique. It seems fair to say that no other community in its circumstances has accomplished so much over the last half-century with such modest resources. But it is not Tupelo’s distinctiveness that makes it worth reading about; it is its ordinariness. In the end, all Tupelo has ever had to work with is what even the most beaten-down, dispirited community has–its own people. Over the years, Tupelo may have figured out better than most how to connect those people one to another, but that is something any community ought to be able to do. In this case study, Vaughn Grisham and his co-writer Rob Gurwitt set forth both the spellbinding story and the guiding principles which have undergirded Tupelo’s journey of transformation. The Tupelo Story is a star to steer by for those who would wish a better life for themselves and their neighbors.