Interest in cluster analysis for economic development in regions has been significant over the years. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of a community’s industry clusters or economic agglomerations can provide regions with resilience to economic changes. Large and smaller economies that are able to identify their industry clusters and know their competitive strengths and weaknesses may be more adaptable and able to thwart the negative effects of economic change. One example of the value of knowing about the strengths and weaknesses of an economy and the potential to shift to new areas of production and service in a local economy is evidenced in Walla Walla, Washington. Smaller communities such as Walla Walla (population estimate 31,957 (U.S. Census)) that have a competitive advantage in wheat production but have found the need to transform their economies because global competition has made their wheat crop production less competitive. Walla Walla packaged some of its natural amenities and strengths in crop production, made use of the education infrastructure at its community college, and created a new industry stronghold of wine production and tourism and increasing restaurant and hotel attractions (Public Broadcasting Service, 2012). Walla Wall capitalized on their completive advantage in crop production, moving from wheat to grapes. This was necessary to stay competitive, but would have been unlikely had they not built on its existing competitive advantage in agriculture and made use of its community college to disseminate knowledge about wine production.
This is an author-produced, peer-reviewed version of this article. The final, definitive version of this document can be found online at Economic Development Quarterly, published by SAGE. Copyright restrictions may apply. doi: 10.1177/0891242417690438
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