Responding to economic change in remote, rural regions: Federal installations in Idaho and Washington

Henry J. Mayer, Michael Greenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The federal government's massive spending on nuclear weapons materials and research generated tens of thousands of jobs and pumped billions of dollars into a small number of regions during the 1940s and 1950s. This concentration of financial and physical resources caused the almost overnight formation of small urban centers in what formerly had been remote, rural areas, and made the economies of the regions that surround the two physically largest sites at Hanford and INEEL heavily dependent on nuclear-related government funding. With the end of the Cold War and global agreement to reduce nuclear arsenals, most of these facilities have been made obsolete. More than 10,000 jobs have been recently eliminated and thousands more were lost at private companies providing support services to these facilities and the displaced workers and their families. Further reductions will likely occur within the next 7-10 years. Our research looked at how local leaders in the still largely rural regions surrounding these two Department of Energy (DOE) sites responded to these economic changes, how have the communities reacted to the likelihood that these facilities would never again be a significant economic engine for the region, and what actions are being taken to reduce the impact of significant DOE cutbacks expected in the future? The results raise critical questions regarding the long-term economic future of the two regions and whether a more aggressive multi-faceted effort is required to stave off a long-term decline. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)421-432
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Rural Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science


  • DOE
  • Department of energy
  • Economic change
  • Hanford
  • Idaho
  • Regional economy
  • Rural economy
  • Tri-cities
  • Washington State
  • Worker displacement


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