Varying Fortunes of Small Towns: Case Studies in Rich Hill, Sarcoxie, and Nixa, Missouri


Wally Schrock

Date of Graduation

Fall 2000


Master of Science in Geospatial Sciences


Geography, Geology, and Planning

Committee Chair

Dimitri Ioannides


During the 1900s, small towns in America have gone through significant changes. Some small towns have grown into large cities, while others are no longer in existence. Some small towns have remained somewhat stagnant over the years. Sociologists, geographers, demographers, and historians have found that small towns, especially in the Midwest, are declining and faced with many problems as we enter the new century. This study focuses on the varying fortunes of small towns, that is, the decline, growth and stability of small towns. Specifically, this research focuses on three small towns in Missouri, ranging in population from 1000-5000 people. The objectives of the study are 1) to determine the factors that have caused each town to decline, grow or remain stable throughout this century, 2) to determine the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in each community, and 3) to make planning recommendations based on the findings and results of the study. Interviews were set up with mayors, city council administrators and organizational leaders in the community to obtain the necessary data for the study. A questionnaire rating each town's community services, transportation, housing, economic development,civic and community leadership, recreation and entertainment was used. The findings suggest that location, leadership, citizen involvement and industry, are critical factors in the decline and growth of small towns. Stagnant communities possess many factors that cause decline in small towns, but also contain factors that cause growth. This allows the community to remain stable. The information from this study is useful for small town city officials and leaders to determine the current status of the towns and should aid in the development of goals and objectives in the future.

Subject Categories

Regional Economics | Urban Studies and Planning


© Wally Schrock