Capacity Building Needs of Rural Areas in Virginia

Document Type


Publication Date



To assess the capacity building needs of rural areas brought on both by internal demands of local citizens for improvements in community assistance and services and demands placed on local communities by higher levels of government, information and data were obtained from personal interviews with 93 local officials and 344 community leaders in 8 rural areas of Virginia in 1977. Major community needs were found to exist in engineering and public works, industrial development, recreation, education, health and welfare, housing, and planning. The five major capacity building needs were fiscal, staffing, planning, citizen participation, and inter-governmental coordination. Lack of adequate finances was a major capacity gap uncovered in all communities. Rural local governments were being called upon to handle assignments that required an increasingly higher degree of staff professionalism. Although comprehensive plans had been developed in rural communities, such plans were not widely followed in making decisions. Because financial and personnel resources were limited, rural local governments relied heavily on citizen volunteers. To retain rural government viability in program activities requiring large capital investments, specialized expertise, and area-wide planning, increased attention was being given to pooling of available resources. Recommendations are included for each of the identified gaps.


This study and publication were based upon research supported in part by The National Science Foundation under Grant No. ISP76-20175.