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Small Town Redevelopment: The Benefits and Costs of Local Economic Development in Alicedale


Small towns, internationally and in South Africa specifically, are generally experiencing a phase of slow economic decline. The process is not inevitable and as this paper illustrates, with reference to the former South African railway town of Alicedale, towns can be given a new lease of life. The key in this town’s revival has been the formation of a strong public–private partnerships, which has partially drawn in the community sector and focused on tourism-based development. The paper details the development process, key challenges experienced, and the results attained; it discusses the degree to which the community has actually benefited and speculates about the value of the Alicedale experience as an example for other small towns.

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The authors acknowledge the financial support of the Development Bank of Southern Africa in undertaking this research in 2006. Preliminary research in 2004–2005 was funded by a grant for the South African National Research Foundation. Views expressed in the paper are those of the authors and not the funders.

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Correspondence to M. Gibb.

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Gibb, M., Nel, E. Small Town Redevelopment: The Benefits and Costs of Local Economic Development in Alicedale. Urban Forum 18, 69–84 (2007).

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  • Small towns
  • South Africa
  • Tourism
  • Partnership