A Community Capitals Analysis
of Regional Change Initiatives:
The South East Alberta
Iowa State University
Table of Contents
Research Description and Purpose ....................................................................................3
Theory of Change / Research Model...................................................................................4
Background of Research.....................................................................................................9
Literature Review / Context......................................................................................10
Community Readiness and Capacity.................................................................................10
Analyzing Community-Driven Projects Using the Community Capitals Framework...........11
Description of Data ...........................................................................................................13
Data Collection Process ...................................................................................................15
Degree of Readiness (Pre-Existing Capitals)....................................................................17
Process (Investment in Capitals).......................................................................................20
To fully understand the involvement of all the community capitals, Table 1 outlines each of
the seven community capitals in terms of what was pre-existing, invested, and how they
are each interconnected....................................................................................................22
Impact (Change in Capitals)..............................................................................................26
Social Capital Invested......................................................................................................29
SEATS Strategies and Implementation Plan.....................................................................29
Absence of Capitals .................................................................................................32
Recommendations for Future Research ...........................................................................33
What are the conditions that make a community more ready to engage in change and take
advantage of opportunities? How can communities work with what they have to organize
and plan for the future?
Every community has resources and assets it can identify and build upon. The challenge,
however, lies in how communities actually invest their assets to effect positive community
change. The intent of this study is to demonstrate how a community that has been effective
in progressive community change was able to mobilize its assets to create and develop a
successful community-driven initiative.
Through the examination of the South East Alberta Technology Strategy (SEATS), I explore
how the investment and interaction of community assets and capital influenced the success
of the project as it moved from an idea to implementation.
To provide an understanding of the relationship and investment of community assets, this
study uses the Community Capitals Framework as an analytic tool to help those involved in
community-driven initiatives understand how investing their community assets and resources
can effect positive change. Specifically, I utilize the Community Capitals Framework to
understand which community capitals are most important in beginning of the SEATS
initiative, which capitals are mobilized during its development, and how the interaction of all
community capitals leads to more productive investment as the project develops.
Research Description and Purpose
In this study, I use a post-hoc analysis to assess the value that has already been generated
in the SEATS project’s initiation and development. The intent is to better understand what
community assets are foundational in getting a project off the ground and then how these
assets are translated into further return on investment as the project progresses.
To better understand the interconnectivity of the existing and enhanced community assets in
the SEATS initiative, I apply the Community Capitals Framework as an analytic tool to look at
the influence and interconnectivity of existing community capitals and how these capitals
were mobilized as SEATS developed over time. Applying this framework lays the foundation
for assessing the impact of a variety of community capital investments that occur through a
project’s development cycle and how those investments translate to successful CED work in
action (Flora, 2006, p. 6).
The intent of this study is to illustrate the capital conformations in SEATS that are associated
The degree of strategic readiness to mobilize outside and internal resources to engage
in a community-driven initiative.
o What seems to be most crucial to have in place to move the SEATS forward?
(initial stocks of capital)
The process of a community-driven initiative and the investments made to move forward.
o What investments in community capitals seem to have the best return on
investment for SEATS? (investments in capital)
The impact of SEATS development.
o What change happened to the existing community capitals and what new
community capitals are now in place for SEATS? (change in capitals)
The analysis of an example of a current community-driven project provides meaningful
practical application in showing how the presence and development of a community’s
capitals can influence and improve a project’s creation and development.
The Community Capitals Framework is introduced only as a post hoc analysis tool to identify
the community capitals that were in place to initiate the SEATS project and how these
capitals were mobilized to create and strengthen other community capitals.
Theory of Change / Research Model
Context Process Outputs and Outcomes
Pre-existing conditions and Actions, investments, intervention Results of Actions
SEATS Characteristics and SEATS development and Positive changes in new
Assets growth and existing capitals
(Initial stocks in capitals) (Investment in capitals) (Change in capitals)
Analyzing the SEATS initiative by looking at the interconnectivity and development of
community capitals provides a framework for understanding how investments in one capital
can impact other capitals – which in turn can have both positive and negative results in the
development of the project.
The Community Capitals Framework serves as a tool to help community-driven initiatives
identify and assess where they are and potentially what they could be doing to enhance their
success. This study is important because it shows the process of building on initial assets
within the community capitals to impact progressive change for initiatives like SEATS.
Central to the study are the interconnectivity and interdependence of all community capitals.
This holistic approach can assist community development practitioners and funders to
understand that the success of the community projects that they are involved in are not
dependent or reliant on only one community asset or capital. One community capital or
another might serve as an entry point; however, all the capitals play a role in molding or
shaping the project.
The analysis of the SEATS project reiterates the importance of softer capitals (such as social
capital) at the onset of a project; as the project develops, more capitals are mobilized and
impacted. Those investments and interactions enhance the achievement of SEATS project
goals and strategies. Particularly, the initial strength of social and human capital at the
beginning of the initiative helped set the stage for the SEATS initiative to achieve its goals
and refine their implementation over time.
Defining the SEATS Initiative and its Partners
(Sourced from “SEATS Backgrounder Document” and Community Futures Entre-Corp
Operational Plan 2008-2009)
The South East Alberta Technology Strategy (SEATS) is a collaborative regional community
initiative aimed at increasing the capacity of the technology sector in South East Alberta.
The initiative started with a foundation of key partners including Community Futures Entre-
Corp (non-profit sector), Auto~Star Compusystems (private sector), and the Medicine Hat
College (public sector). Together these partners had a committed and collective drive to
bring the community together to build the technology sector in the region. Today, SEATS
engages a variety regional community stakeholders, representing a wide-range of
businesses and organizations including (but not limited to) Community Futures Entre-Corp,
Autu~Star Compusystems, the Medicine Hat College, the Economic Development Alliance of
Southeast Alberta, the City of Medicine Hat, Defense Research Development Canada,
Canadian Centre for Unmanned Vehicles, Red Tech Incubator, and the Chamber of
Commerce of Medicine Hat and area.
The map below represents the communities served in South East Alberta. The boundaries
are based on the region identified by SEATS partners Community Futures Entre-Corp.
SEATS Partners and the Communities Served
SEATS Funders Partner & Supporting
Category Location Population
Edmonton • Advanced Education and Technology
Outside • The Business Link
Cochrane • CF Alberta (RDI)
City Medicine Hat 60,426** • Community Futures Entre-Corp
• Medicine Hat College
• Auto-star Compusystems
• Canadian Centre for Unmanned Vehicle
• Accessible Accessories
• Palliser Economic Partnership
• Medicine Hat and District Chamber of
Brooks 13,581** • Community Futures Entre-Corp
• City of Brooks
• Medicine Hat College (Brooks Campus)
• Palliser Economic Partnership
County Cypress County • Community Futures Entre-Corp
Includes Hilda, Schuler, Walsh, 6,729*
• CFB Suffield
Dunmore, Elkwater, Seven Persons,
Burdett & Irvine • Palliser Economic Partnership
County of Newell 6,862* • Community Futures Entre-Corp
Includes Scandia and Patricia • Palliser Economic Partnership
County of Forty Mile 3,414* • Community Futures Entre-Corp
Includes Manyberries • Palliser Economic Partnership
Town Redcliff 5,096* • Community Futures Entre-Corp
• RedTech Inc
• Palliser Economic Partnership
Bow Island 1,889* • Community Futures Entre-Corp
• Palliser Economic Partnership
Village Duchess 978* • Community Futures Entre-Corp
• Palliser Economic Partnership
Tilley 381* • Community Futures Entre-Corp
• Palliser Economic Partnership
Foremost 524* • Community Futures Entre-Corp
• Palliser Economic Partnership
Rosemary 388* • Community Futures Entre-Corp
• Palliser Economic Partnership
Total population of communities served by
Community Futures Entre-Corp
Reference: Statistics Canada. 2006. ** Official Population List, Alberta Municipal Affairs
Background of SEATS
The idea of SEATS was conceptualized in 2005 as a follow up to a pre-existing pilot project
(known as the Business First Technology Incubator), which was designed to offer
technology-based start-up businesses in Medicine Hat with facility space, business coaching
and mentoring, and the ability to share resources and expertise with other technology
Recognizing the value of the Business First Technology project and the potential impact on
the region, the partners moved to a new phase of development, called the South East
Alberta Technology Strategy. The focus was to develop a community plan with input and
buy-in from key stakeholders in the region to collaborate on enhancing the technology sector
in South East Alberta. By summer 2008, the SEATS partners had developed a strategic plan
and were prepared to move the project into the third phase; the implementation.
Timeline: SEATS Timeline and Key Activities
SEATS Management and Community Futures Entre-Corp
On behalf of SEATS and its partners, Community Futures Entre-Corp manages the project
and all of its funds. Community Futures Entre-Corp Business Development is a community
owned not-for-profit Community Futures Development Corporation committed to providing
advanced programs and resources to the communities of Southeast Alberta in the areas of
Entrepreneurship, Economic Development, Community Economic Development and job
SEATS Flow of Information Between Partners and Funders
Regional Community Funders
Lead Partner: Community Futures Entre-Corp
SEATS Project Manager
Funding specifically designated for SEATS started in 2007 with a Rural Community
Economic Development (RCED) grant submitted by Community Futures Entre-Corp on
behalf of the partners involved in SEATS. RCED is a federally supported grant under the
federal department of Western Economic Diversification, which is managed and administered
through Community Futures Alberta. This grant was allocated primarily for planning purposes
to engage the community and develop a technology strategy for the region.
In late 2008, SEATS received funding from the Rural Diversification Initiative (RDI) and
Alberta Advanced Education and Technology (AAET) for a three-year strategy
implementation to increase the capacity of the technology sector in the region. Funding from
RDI is federally supported through the department of Western Economic Diversification and
managed through Community Futures Alberta. AAET is direct funding from the provincial
government, through the ministry of Alberta Advanced Education and Technology.
Further background information on SEATS and its funders can be found in Appendix 4 & 6.
Background of Research
Initial discussions took place in October 2008 with SEATS’ primary funder, the Rural
Diversification Initiative (funded through Community Futures Alberta) about what conditions
and factors influence a community’s ability and willingness to participate in large change-
driven rural diversification initiatives. As a funder, RDI was interested in gathering a more in-
depth look at why some Community Futures offices and their rural community partners were
moving ahead full-speed to take on large rural development projects and why others were
not. As noted from one of the RDI staff, “Why is it that there can be two communities that
both have private sector partners interested in helping a rural community diversify their
region, yet only one of the communities is able to move forward with it?”
Prior to RDI, Community Futures Alberta funded smaller Rural Community Economic
Development (RCED) projects. From the process moving from smaller CED grants to large
scale rural diversification initiatives, they learned that not all communities and Community
Futures offices were ready to engage in change. When evaluating the projects funded
through RCED, they also learned that ‘project partners’ was a recurring theme in what either
started or stopped the project from moving forward. In fact, the comment ‘project partners’
was mentioned most in the evaluation feedback from local Community Futures offices about
what they felt contributed to the success or stall of their project before it got off the ground
(RCED Final Report, 2008).
As Community Futures Alberta moved forward into its current Rural Diversification Initiative,
they realized that a lot could be learned from reflecting on the projects funded through their
previous program (RCED). My study parallels this reflective approach by taking a post-hoc
analysis of an existing RDI funded initiative, SEATS, to learn how it was initiated and
developed into what it is today.
The type of community economic development work in which Community Futures Alberta is
involved through their recently created Rural Diversification Initiative is very much related to
the type of research I was interested in conducting. As such, I approached Community
Futures Alberta with the possibility of working together. They were very willing to get
involved and participate in whatever capacity was needed to assist my research.
History of Involvement
This research project evolved from my interest as a community development practitioner in
learning more about what community assets and resources are key contributors in initiating
CED projects and how these assets and resources are mobilized collectively to impact
positive change the community. My intent is to build upon the community development tools
and techniques that I learned in my Masters program and apply them within the context of an
existing community initiative to illustrate their practical application.
In October 2008 I was working on the design and delivery of a training workshop with
Community Futures Alberta’s project officer Judy McMillan Evans. My role in this project was
to co-facilitate the workshop and introduce the Community Capitals Framework as an
organizing tool to help Community Futures offices (primarily CED staff) learn how they can
take a more holistic approach to identifying and engaging partners to work on potential rural
My connection to Community Futures dates back to 1998 when I spent a combined total of
five years working for Community Futures Alberta (provincial association) and a local
Community Futures office (in northwest Alberta). Since that time I have maintained a close
relationship with Community Futures and for the past three and a half years in my current
role as a Community Development Officer with the Government of Alberta have partnered
with Community Futures in a number of projects. Due to this previous work and relationship,
the match of this study with a Community Futures RDI project, SEATS, seemed an ideal fit.
Literature Review / Context
Community partners, staff, and funders all have a vested interest in wanting to see the
initiatives they support make a positive impact on their community. Further, they have a
general, if not specific, idea of what the positive impact should be. In community
development practice, it is recognized that there are many contributing factors that can
influence the development and implementation of successful community-driven initiatives.
Often times, the challenge lies in how a community actually invests in what it already has to
effect positive change.
To help communities positively deal with the changes that impact them, some community
and economic development strategies are finding that it is more effective to build upon what
a community already has rather than what it needs or is perceived to need (Beaulieu, 2002,
Emery, Fey, and Flora, 2006). Rather than concentrating on the deficits of individuals and
communities, Kretzmann and McKnight pioneered an asset-based approach to community
development to identify the talents and skills of individuals and the capacities available
through a community’s existing local organizations and institutions (Kretzmann and
McKnight, 1993). By concentrating on local assets, instead of needs and weaknesses,
community members are better positioned to identify possibilities for change and become
more energized to take action (Haines, 2008, Vision to Action, 2001).
Community Readiness and Capacity
Every community has a variety of resources to work from. However, resources alone do not
translate into communitywide success. The resources within a community must be
accessible and mobilized effectively (Flora and Flora, 2008:138). It is important, then, to
realize where your community is currently and how it can build upon its resources. This takes
time, support, and trust (Vision to Action, 2001). In fact, significant community development
only takes place when local community people are committed to investing themselves and
their resources (Kretzmann and McKnight, 1996). Success is more likely to occur if those
involved have both the ability and the desire to build relationships and work together.
Otherwise, what incentive or commitment is there to get things done?
By collaborating, individual entities are able to leverage diverse skills and resources required
to implement community projects efficiently. Sharing power with other groups over a
project’s duration can lead to stronger relationships as well as wider community buy-in to a
larger vision (Aspen Institute, 2005). As a result, diverse groups may find it easier to work
together on larger initiatives later on.
People organize and formalize collaborative efforts when they believe their interests will be better
served by engaging than by not engaging. To do this takes time to build trust and long-term
investments of resources (Aspen Institute, 2005).
Social capital - often known as the trust, relationships, and networks that we have as
individuals, organizations and communities – is a critical community characteristic. It can
influence, as well as be influenced by, other community assets and resources (Emery and
Flora, 2006). Bonding social capital refers to the close ties that exist between individuals
and groups with similar backgrounds in a community. Bridging social capital is what connects
diverse groups within the community to each other and to groups outside the community. It
is the presence of this bridging social capital that fosters creativity and brings diverse
organizations and communities together (Flora and Flora, 2008, Nayaran, 1999, Granovetter,
1973 & 1985).
Communities that build on sustainable social capital - where high levels of bonding and
bridging social capital exist – strengthen relationships on a communitywide basis by
encouraging community initiative, responsibility, and adaptability.
When bridging and bonding social capital reinforce each other, development can
occur; local resources are innovatively combined with and augmented by outside
resources. (Flora and Flora, 2008)
Flora and Flora (1993) developed a term “Entrepreneurial Social Infrastructure” (ESI) to
identify a measurable form of community action that is a consequence of a community being
able to engage in high bridging and high bonding social capital that enhances community
economic development. ESI includes inclusive internal and external networks, local
mobilization of resources, and the willingness of communities to consider alternative ways of
reaching goals (Emery and Flora, 2004, Flora and Flora 2008).
The networks that exist in our communities are essential ingredients in facilitating collective
action (Pigg, 2004). Collective action is engaged in to improve the community – the
Community Capitals Framework, which includes but is not limited to social capital, facilitates
analysis of stocks and flows of community assets that serve as inputs and outputs for
collective community action (Emery and Flora, 2006).
Analyzing Community-Driven Projects Using the Community Capitals
The Community Capitals Framework is an approach that leading experts and practitioners in
the community development field utilize in the work of building community capacity. It is an
integrated technique that looks at what resources exist within a community and how a
community can invest in one resource to create new resources (Emery and Flora, 2006).
Cornelia and Jan Flora (2004) developed the Community Capitals Framework as an
approach to analyze how communities work. Based on their research to uncover
characteristics of entrepreneurial and sustainable communities, they found that the
communities most successful in supporting healthy sustainable community and economic
development paid attention to all seven types of capital: natural, cultural, human, social,
political, financial and built:
Figure 1: The Community Capitals Framework
Capital – refers to the assets in a location, such as natural resources, the environment,
and natural beauty. Examples might include water, soil, biodiversity, weather, parks,
farm land, etc.
2. Cultural Capital – reflects how we see the world, how we act within it, and what we value.
It also includes our traditions and languages.
3. Human Capital – is the native intelligence, skills, abilities, education, and health of
individuals within a community.
4. Social Capital – reflects the connections among people and organizations or the social
glue that makes things happen. Bonding social capital consists of the close ties of
people within a specific group. This is something you would likely see in a close-knit rural
community. Bridging social capital involves weak ties that create and maintain bridges
among organizations and communities.
5. Political Capital – refers to access to power, organizations, connections to resources. It
also refers to the ability of people to engage in actions that contribute to the well being of
6. Financial Capital – includes the financial resources available to invest in community
capacity-building. It consists of debt capital, investment capital, savings, tax revenues,
7. Built Capital – is the infrastructure that supports the community such as
telecommunications, industrial parks, main streets, water and sewer systems, roads.
(Emery and Flora, 2006, Flora, 2004).
Interconnectivity of Community Capitals
As illustrated in the above diagram, a community’s capitals are intimately intertwined. It is
the interaction of these capitals that helps strengthen internal and external community
relationships, assets, and resources (Emery and Flora, 2006).
The Community Capitals Framework offers a way to analyze community and
economic development efforts from a systems perspective by identifying the assets in
each capital (stock), the types of capital invested (flow), the interaction among the
capitals, and the resulting impacts across capitals (Emery and Flora, 2006).
The Community Capitals Framework serves as an analytical tool to dig deeper into
understanding how the supply or absence of one community capital can have a rippling
effect on other capitals (Flora, 2004). Within the context of community-driven projects, the
Community Capitals Framework helps to identify how investments in some of the ‘softer’
capitals such as social and human capital are related to a community’s capacity to engage in
successful community and economic development (Flora, Fey and Bregendahl 2006). It can
also help CED project staff and funders better understand the strategic nature of the funded
programs and their impact. By measuring the investments in each of the capitals and the
changes resulting from that investment, the framework provides a means to better
understand the impact of CED in our communities (Flora, Emery, Fey, and Bregendahl,
This study identifies how the interconnectivity and investment of community capitals have
influenced the SEATS ability to impact change.
Using the Community Capitals Framework as a post-hoc analysis tool to detect the
community capitals contributing to the SEATS project at its onset, development, and
implementation, I focus on the stocks and flows of the community capitals – what people said
was in place that made success possible - and what investments of capitals (flows) occurred
during the process.
Description of Data
Content analysis of the following data sources identified the relative importance of each of
the capitals at different periods of time in the SEATS’ process.
1. Written notes taken from oral interviews with seven of SEATS’s community partners
2. Typed notes from facilitated discussion of two community planning sessions in April
and July 2007 (where participants discussed a vision for the technology sector in the
region and developed a series of goals to achieve that vision)
3. Hard copies of SEATS’s December 2008 and March 2009 Progress Activity Reports
4. SEATS Strategy 2008-2011 (Strategy development documentation / visual created by
SEATS project staff)
5. Written notes and observations from informal interviews and conversations with
SEATS lead project partner on an ongoing basis throughout the duration of the study.
Sources of Data
1. Interviews with SEATS Partners
I conducted unstructured interviews to capture the insight, knowledge and experience of
key community stakeholders involved in the SEATS project. To best obtain the most
diverse perspectives, seven interviewees were selected to ensure broad representation
from SEATS partners, staff, and funders. Thus, I interviewed a private sector
entrepreneur, an educator from the region’s college, representatives of partner non-profit
organizations, SEATS staff, and two funder viewpoints. This broad representation was
intended to ensure that key partners involved since the project’s inception would be
included in the interviews.
Interview questions were open-ended, intended to encourage participants to ‘tell their
story’ about the SEATS project. I purposefully did not ask any questions related directly
to community capitals or the Community Capitals Framework. This approach was
intended to allow the capitals to emerge spontaneously in discussion (so not to force the
respondents to put their responses in categories with which they were not familiar). The
benefit of this approach is that it does not prompt specific CCF-based responses from
project partners, as they were not directly asked to discuss specific community capitals,
but rather encouraged simply to discuss what they felt was important to get the project
going and mobilized.
Appreciative Inquiry (AI) helped structure Interview questions to identify from the
interviewees what is working and has worked in the project, what changes have
happened as a result of the project, and what future direction the interviewees felt the
project was heading. The AI approach involves collaborative inquiry, based on interviews
and affirmative questioning, to collect and celebrate the good news stories of a
community (Hammond, 1998, IISD Appreciative Inquiry and Community Development,
Using questions tied to AI captured individual stories and conversation to gain valuable
insight into the SEATS initiative and helped better understand the factors that served as
catalysts to move the project forward.
2. Discussion / Feedback from Community Planning Sessions
Two Community Planning Sessions took place in April and July 2007.
Both sessions involved facilitated discussion around developing a common vision and a
series of goals for the future of the technology sector in the region. Information from the
sessions was recorded on flip charts, which I then content analyzed for the different
The Community Planning Session on April 26, 2007 was the first of its kind where a
group of interested individuals and organizations from Medicine Hat and area to discuss
and plan for the future of the technology sector in South East Alberta. This event was
pivotal for the regional community as an abundance of valuable feedback was gathered
(from technology businesses, the Medicine Hat College, Community Futures Entre-Corp,
Defense Research Development Canada, the Chamber of Commerce, the Volunteer
Centre, the City of Medicine Hat, etc.). The Community Planning Session on July 11,
2007 served as a follow up workshop for interested community partners to develop goals
that would ultimately help SEATS achieve its vision. Essentially it is the notes taken from
these two sessions that helped set the foundation for where the SEATS project is today.
3. Progress Activity Reports
Every quarter, the SEATS initiative develops a progress report to each of its two funders
on the activities and developments that have happened in the specified time frame.
These reports are created by the SEATS Project Manager, Chris Deering and reviewed
by the manager of Community Futures Entre-Corp, the organization overseeing SEATS.
While the reports assist the funders in monitoring the progress of the project, the
information within the reports also provides value to SEATS as a reference point to
ensure the project is on track and accomplishing what it set out to do.
As of April, 2009, SEATS has completed two Progress Activity Reports - one in
December 2008 and the other in March 2009.
4. SEATS Strategy Development
The SEATS Strategy Development document was created in October 2008 as a visual
representation to depict the goals and strategies of the initiative. The initial goals were
drafted at the July 2007 Community Planning Session and refined slightly to align with
funder mandates in April 2008.
5. In-depth Interview with SEATS Lead Partner, Community Futures Entre-Corp
Since the interviews and documentation of SEATS are focused primarily on the pre-
existing and developmental stages of the project, I also kept notes from ongoing
(informal) interviews and discussions with SEATS lead partner, Community Futures
Entre-Corp. This data is based on
Data Collection Process
I coded the data from interviews, community planning sessions, project reports and the
SEATS Strategy document by the type of community capitals represented. I put together a
list of key words for each community capital which I used to code the different data sources.
I then summed the number of times each capital was mentioned in any of the data sources.
The indicator of importance is the number of times each capital was mentioned. For detailed
information on the ‘key word’ coding of the capitals, please refer to Appendix 1.
To align with the study’s purpose to identify the existence and interactivity of community
capitals, my analysis looks at the capitals at three points in time.
Readiness Process Impact
Changes in new and existing
SEATS Existing Assets SEATS development and growth
(Initial stocks in capitals) (Investment in capitals)
(Measure of change in capitals)
Time 1 Between Time 1 & Time 2 Time 2
Apr 2005- July 2007 July 2007 - Feb 2009 March 2009
Data Collection on T 1: Data Collection between T1 & Data Collection on T 2:
Interviews, 2007 T2: SEATS Strategy Document, in-
Community Planning Interviews, SEATS Progress depth interview with SEATS
Session Notes Reports (Dec 08 and Mar 09) lead project partner
T1: The degree readiness to mobilize outside and internal resources to engage SEATS.
(pre-existing, initial stocks of capital)
Between T1 and T2: The process of SEATS and what investments were made to move
forward. (investments in capital)
T2: Measurement of the impact of SEATS development. (change in capitals)
For a breakdown of each capital, preexisting assets, the investment and relationship of
capitals, refer to Table 1.
Communities are complex, dynamic systems (Flora, 2004). As such, there are often many
contributing factors that can impact a community-driven initiative and its ability to engage in
change. Due to the nature and fluidity of community capitals, it can sometimes be difficult to
determine where to place indicators for individual capitals. What might be a measure of
social capital in one situation could be a measure of cultural or human capital in another.
Strong leadership, for example, can be human and social and political capital. In some
instances, investments in social capital can impact all of the other capitals.
The Community Capitals Framework will allow me to indicate which community capitals are
most important in the beginning of the SEATS initiative, which capitals are mobilized during
its development, and how the interaction of all community capitals leads to more productive
investment in capitals and a positive impact on community change. This framework
accounts for the fact that a variety of investments are made in the course of CED efforts
(Flora, Fey and Bregendahl, 2006).
It is anticipated that social capital, followed by human and cultural capital, will be the
foundational pieces linked to what makes a community successful at engaging in community
change initiatives. While other capitals may exist, it is these three ‘softer’ capitals that are the
underpinning ‘glue’ that moves change initiatives ideas to implementation (Fey, Bregendahl
and Flora, 2006).
In this section, I explain more closely how the stocks and flows of community capitals were
identified and invested upon. The results are summarized into the following categorizes to
illustrate the interaction and impact of community capitals throughout the development of the
SEATS initiative at three points in time:
Time 1: Degree of Readiness (pre-existing capital)
Between Time 1 & Time 2: Process / Development (investment in capital)
Time 3: Measurement of Impact of SEATS (change in capital)
According to Flora, Fey and Bregendahl (2006), “turning stories into numbers requires
acquiring a sense of the interaction between context and indicator.” The indicator of
importance for the data analysis is the number of times each community capital was
mentioned in the interviews, community planning session notes, and progress reports.
Degree of Readiness (Pre-Existing Capitals)
Readiness is more than just a group of interested people coming together to get a project
going. Those involved need to have a level of trust and commitment to move forward (Vision
to Action, 2001). The data analysis provided in this study parallels this level of importance
on the trust, connections and networks in the SEATS initiative.
First, the data analysis focuses on what community capitals contributed to the readiness of
the community to embark on a change-driven initiative of this magnitude. This was done by
examining the existing resources and assets that were in place by identifying the natural,
human, cultural, social, political, financial, and built capitals that were in place in the early
stages of the SEATS initiative.
Figure 2: Pre-Existing Community Capitals at the onset of the SEATS Initiative
Financial 5% 2%
Data Sources: 1) Interview and 2) notes from Community Planning Sessions in 2007
The pie chart in Figure 2 provides visual representation of the relative mention of the ‘pre-
existing’ capitals of the community and SEATS in its beginning stages, as determined by
interviews and documents. It is the overlap of social, human, and cultural capitals that make
up a combined total of 82% of the existing community capitals in place at the onset of
SEATS. Social capital was instrumental in the beginning stages with 41% followed by
human capital representing 27%.
From the transcriptions of notes from the interviews, the following comments from SEATS
partners and funders reiterate this high level of social, human, and cultural capitals:
There was a recognition of the need to diversify the region’s economy, along with the
readiness of the multi-sectoral group to come together (Cultural Capital)
Many stakeholders worked together in the past, therefore there was already a level of
trust – we saw this as an opportunity (Social Capital).
I felt the success from the Business First Technology Incubator (BFTI) was the
catalyst that got the project started. It solidified that with a little community support
and sharing of knowledge that you can successfully launch technology companies in
Medicine Hat (South East Alberta) (Social and Human Capital).
The success of the participants of the BFTI help the stakeholders realize that
increasing the participation in the community could lead exponentially greater
success and create a positive impact in the community (Social Capital).
REALLY LONG HISTORY OF RELATIONSHIP BUILDING IN S.E. ALBERTA!!!!
(Social and Cultural Capital).
People underestimate trust, building relationships, working together – this is a
PRECURSER TO SUCCESS!!! (Social Capital).
Enablers! It took just a few people who are highly motivated and keenly interested to
get it going (Social Capital).
Impetus and foundation was there – the project evolved from foundation and
relationships already in place (Social Capital).
Trust and commitment among partners – made funder excited (Social Capital).
The relative presence of social capital is strong. Social and human capitals are intimately
intertwined with the built and financial capitals that preceded SEATS. The existing base of
technology-driven businesses in the region as well as the previously-related technology
projects that were funded prior to SEATS contributed to moving the project forward. This is
reflected in comments from SEATS partners:
SEATS started by a committed group building on the resources and infrastructure we
The (British and Canadian) Army Base located ½ hour from Medicine Hat has a lot of
innovation and research going on – we realized we should build on that.
The Base and other tech companies in the region already have success on the world
We had previous funding through the Rural Community Economic Development grant
that helped us in the planning and development of the strategy so we could build the
network and capacity to where it is today. Without that we wouldn’t have had the
resources necessary to engage key stakeholders in the community planning sessions
or provide training opportunities to the partners.
RDI and AAET funding helps us carry out our goals and strategy.
The previous funding that SEATS accessed was a foundational piece that enabled the
initiative to carry out its planning endeavors. SEATS’ funders emphasized that the possibility
of getting current RDI and AAET funds allowed the project to move to the next level of its
Process (Investment in Capitals)
By examining the interaction among community capitals, as well as the investment from the
outside in different capitals, this study can better understand the role of each capital.
Focusing on process also allows for the assessment of progress towards a project’s goals
(Flora and Flora, p. 133, 2008)
Figure 3: Investment of Community Capitals in the SEATS Initiative
Data Sources: 1) Interviews from SEATS partners and 2) SEATS Progress Activity Reports
Similar to the pre-existing capitals of the SEATS initiative, social, human and cultural capitals
continue to play an integral role in the developmental process of the SEATS project (84%). It
is the combination of these capitals that serve as the catalyst to influence the growth and
development of other capitals and the goals of the SEATS initiative. Comments from
interviews reiterate this point:
We are seeing a vast amount of collaboration among the members of SEATS.
Partners and stakeholders are working together to benefit the community even if that
represents slight increases in resource cost (Social Capital)
Partners are inviting each other closer into their businesses to share their successes,
plans, and potential business opportunities all to the benefit of SEATS. We have seen
businesses revenues and opportunities grow for the stakeholders as a direct result of
the collaboration that SEATS has initiated (Social and Human Capital).
The way of thinking that SEATS has enabled has really turned into a new culture of
thinking and values adopted by those interested in advancing the technology sector
in the region.
The Cypress Technology Network is becoming more known in the community as
“the” place to network, share resources, and build business ideas (Social and Human
Funders are coming to SEATS as the ‘go to’ group for tech-related advice (Human
The Medicine Hat College is moving beyond its traditional methods of delivery by
working closely with the technology businesses and Community Futures Entre-Corp
to incorporate ‘non-technical’ courses and requirements into their technology
programs. This came as a result of the Cypress Technology Network roundtable
discussions where the health region and other technology companies raised the
concern that the highly technical skilled students coming into the workforce were
lacking in some of the softer skills in communication, management, and public
relations (Human and Social Capital).
The assets in social and human capitals continue to make an impressionable impact on the
SEATS project; however, one difference between the pre-existing and investment in
community capitals is that the relative importance of human capita has significantly increased
(from 27% to 43%). As SEATS moved from readiness to development, social and human
capitals reversed. In the beginning, social capital represented 41% and human capital 27%
of the capitals mentioned in the interviews and documents. Through the process of the
initiative, social capital was 35% and human capital jumped to 43 %. This signifies social
capital is important for starting a project and human capital is important for the process and
As one of the interviewees said:
The overall knowledge transfer among members and non members seems to be working
very well. I have also witnessed increased collaboration between IT sector companies
(among themselves) and with the Medicine Hat College. As a result we have also seen
the Medicine Hat College launch a student cooperative program within the IT sector,
which I believe is a direct result of SEATS. That should lead to greater job creation,
retention and integration of youth into the South East Alberta Technology sector. This in
turn will help to create a more diversified labor force and eventually /ideally lead to
greater investment in technology within our region.
Of other particular interest is the change in the relative importance of political capital, which
increased from 4% in the pre-existing capitals to 8% during the process of the initiative. Box
1 provides an example of the interconnectivity showing how political capital, in conjunction
with other capitals, was invested in:
Box 1: An Example of Community Capitals Invested
Building and Interconnectivity of Community Capitals at the Cypress Technology
Network’s Presentation on Community Infrastructure Fiber-Optics.
Through the development of SEATS, the informal network known as the Cypress
Technology Network was formed. This came as a direct result of the two community
planning sessions in 2007 where participants at the session were eager to continue
networking and building a common place where they could share ideas and grow the
technology sector collectively.
SEATS facilitates the Cypress Technology Network meetings that are held monthly (at
different host technology organizations). These meetings bring together technology
businesses and other community organizations interested in advancing the sector. The
first hour of the meeting involves networking (social capital) and the second hour is
committed to developing and offering presentations (human capital) by the hosting
business. Following the presentations is a round table discussion that opens up time for
businesses to share their technology skill-base with others in the group and learn about
what is going on in the community and region.
At the Cypress Technology Network meeting in February 2009, one of the local technology
entrepreneurs brought a speaker from California to talk about what is involved in
implementing public fiber optics to the homes (built capital). This entrepreneur is very
passionate about this topic. His travels to California to hear the speaker initially (human
and bridging social capital) resulted in an increase in capacity and knowledge for those at
the meeting (more human and social capitals). This also solidified the “way of thinking and
doing” (cultural capital) for SEATS and the Cypress Technology Network – which is now
becoming known as a place to network, share ideas, and push ideas forward. Taken
further, this entrepreneur invited local politicians to the meeting to keep them informed of
the topic and open the door to further advocacy at the municipal level to consider bringing
in and financially supporting fiber optics to the community (political and financial capital).
The example in Box 1 illustrates that a strong sense of social and human capitals at the
onset and development of the initiative can later have further impact and direct relations with
To fully understand the involvement of all the community capitals, Table 1 outlines each of
the seven community capitals in terms of what was pre-existing, invested, and how they are
Table 1: Mapping SEATS’s Community Capitals
Pre-existing Assets /
Capital Investment in Capital Capital Synergies
Human 1. High level of skill, 1. Increase in knowledge and Social Capital – increase
knowledge and skill of entrepreneurship, of networks and sharing
education in technology technology sector in the of resources between
sector already in community, and support businesses, economic
existence in the region. networks for businesses and development groups,
This is the ‘asset’ of community orgs supporting Medicine Hat College,
which the intent of the tech sector etc.
SEATS project was
initially developed From the creation of the Those partners involved
Business Tech Incubator, in SEATS and the
Canadian Centre for Auto-Star mentored three new Cypress Technology
Unmanned Vehicles tech businesses for the Network are now
(testing / promote duration of their term in the becoming known as the
technology) technology incubator “go to” people for access
Military base located 25 Creation of “Cypress knowledge, and
minutes from Medicine Technology Network” (SEATS resources
Hat with high tech served as a catalyst for
scientists increased access to Financial Capital –
knowledge and skills of sector access to two sources of
Medicine Hat College by facilitating the development funding (RDI and AB
running IT certificate of this network). Advanced Education &
course Technology). This is due
o Sub clusters of tech largely to the ability to
Entrepreneurs and businesses working solicit partners
businesses in high tech together
industries (such as Cultural Capital – a
Auto-Star, Accessible Development of technology- heightened awareness of
Accessories, Lite Book, related business directory the technology sector’s
Meggit Defense) ‘entrepreneurial spirit’ in
Medicine Hat College the region
Economic Development exploring new ‘tech’ focus in
organizations (Chamber Business Admin program The proactive and
of Commerce, collaborative nature of the
Economic Development More tech-based businesses partners involved in
Alliance, Community stay in region due to active SEATS sets a foundation
Futures Entre-Corp, involvement of sector and its for more knowledge,
City of Medicine Hat) partners information and skills to
2. Ability of those involved Hiring of SEATS full-time staff
to solicit partnerships, to connect with / inform tech Political Capital – an
provide support, source industry and partners increase in awareness
funding opportunities, and support of the project
2. More private industry
etc at various levels of
committed time to coach /
government comes (in
Creation of the mentor / support tech industry
part) as a result of the
Business Technology and partners working towards
ability of the partners’
Incubator to foster increasing the capacity of the
networking skills (social
entrepreneurship in the tech sector in the community
and human capital)
tech industry AND
provide a platform for
existing businesses to
Pre-existing Assets /
Capital Investment in Capital Capital Synergies
Social 1. Pre-existing 1. Increase of networks between Human Capital – the
partnerships (Existing businesses, economic increase in networking
bonding social capital development groups, and access to more
between economic community stakeholders, etc. partners has lead to
development, non- opportunities to increase
profit and government More businesses and partners access to the skills and
partners) are linked together through the knowledge of other tech
creation of the “Cypress companies
Community Futures Technology Network.” The
Entre-Corp, Medicine database of tech companies in The networking provides
Hat College, Economic the region is an indicator of partners the opportunity
Development Alliance, the increase in #s of to work together on
Defense Research businesses and organizations projects, bring in expert
Development Centre, now linked speakers and presenters
City of Medicine Hat, to monthly network
Chamber of Commerce Mentoring of entrepreneurs events, etc
(through the creation of the
Entrepreneurs and Business Tech Incubator and Financial Capital –
businesses in high tech the work Community Futures access to funding is
industries (such as Entre-Corp does to support strongly influenced by the
Auto-Star, Lite Book, entrepreneurs) has turned into ongoing relationship and
Meggit Defense) more bonding social capital trust of funders in the
between new and existing SEATS project
2. New networks (bridging partnerships
social capital to tech Cultural Capital –The
businesses, other tech Economic Development proactive and
networks, government groups and the Medicine Hat collaborative nature of the
entities outside of College now have a better partners involved in
region) understanding of tech SEATS serves as a
company needs. “culture of readiness”
Political Capital – an
Local tech businesses now
Alberta Advanced linked to multiple ec dev’t
increase in awareness
Education & and support of the project
support groups that can help
Technology at various levels of
them build skills and connect
government comes (in
University of Calgary them to more opportunities for
part) as a result of the
(Tech project related to growth / development
ability of the partners’ to
rural Much stronger relationship adequately network and
videoconferencing) with outside networks to sell the project (social and
government agencies, human capital)
SEATS full-time staff in place
to liaise / inform tech industry
& community partners
2. Increase of community
networks collaborating /
Community consultation with
variety of business,
community and government
developed a vision and series
of goals for SEATS
Connection with Lethbridge
Pre-existing Assets /
Capital Investment in Capital Capital Synergies
Politic 1. Some awareness of 1. Increase in awareness of Social / Cultural Capital –
al technology ‘niche’ at SEATS project The proactive / collaborative
various levels of nature of the partners
government Presentations from involved in SEATS
economic development exemplifies a strong
Government officials organizations (selling the collective effort that ‘looks
and representatives idea of developing the good’ to political influences
who sit on Ec Dev technology sector as a and funders
boards and committees means to diversify the
(Economic region) Human / Financial Capital
Development Alliance - Through strong networking
2. Increase in support of skills, SEATS and its
and Community Futures
SEATS partners are better
Received recognition from positioned to influence
municipal / prov gov of the decision makers / seek
value of the region’s funding support
technology sector and how
it can be capitalized on
Financ 1. Investment of 1. Investment in project Social / Cultural Capital –
ial government and Ec increased from only The ‘track record’ of
Dev organizations to government and Ec Dev partners involved in SEATS
move tech sector organizations to include exemplifies a strong and
forward in region private investment (valued trusting commitment that
at over $200,000) ‘looks good’ to funders
previous RCED (Rural 2. Rural Diversification Human Capital - Through
Community Economic Initiative (RDI) funding strong networking and
Development) funding 2008-2011 – Phase 3 of project development skills,
(2007) helped set the SEATS project SEATS and partners are
foundation for building better positioned to seek
3. Alberta Science and
and mobilizing SEATS funding support
to where it is now funding Political Capital – With the
Willingness and strong financial support from
commitment of Ec Dev public / private org, SEATS
organizations to invest is on the radar of varying
time to move project levels of government as a
forward successful project in action
Cultur 1. Proactive and ‘culture 1. Community and economic Social Capital – increase of
al of readiness’ attitude of development groups are networks and sharing of
pre-existing partners more pro-technology resources has lead SEATS
and the Cypress Tech
2. Entrepreneurial spirit of 2. Culture of readiness
Network to becoming known
South East Alberta translates into ‘action’
as the “go to” place for
Hiring of SEATS Project access to information,
Manager knowledge, and networks
SEATS and partners
developed vision and goals
Pre-existing Assets /
Capital Investment in Capital Capital Synergies
Built High-speed internet, More awareness and advocacy Human Capital –
Supernet (Government of to local government for support knowledge and skills of tech
Alberta’s fibreoptics linked to get ‘public’ fibre optics in companies to describe or
through all schools, Medicine Hat. Session held in ‘sell’ benefits of fiber optics
hospitals and libraries in Feb 2009 focused specifically
Political Capital – local
every community in Alberta) on the topic of public fibre optics
politicians have attended
meetings to hear benefits of
public fiber optics
Impact (Change in Capitals)
SEATS’s developmental process and impacts are not mutually exclusive. The influence of
community assets and capitals will continue to develop and strengthen as SEATS
progresses through its implementation stage.
For the purpose of this study, the measure of impact (or change in community capitals) is
based on what has happened to March 2009. The analysis was conducted through informal
interviews and observations with SEATS lead partner on the progress and changes that have
happened over the course of the project’s duration.
Considering SEATS is still amidst its development and implementation, there are limits in the
ability to effectively determine all possible impacts that the initiative has within the
community. First, the interview questions and responses lack detail for validity and ability to
compare capitals from pre-existing to what changes have been in place. Second, the current
documents produced from SEATS do not have impact data compiled.
Albeit the limitations of information available, the data collected provides value to
understanding the fluidity and interdependency of the community capitals that have
influenced the SEATS project to date.
Figure 4: Impact of SEATS Using Community Capitals
Human 28% Natural
Political 12% Human
Figure 4 illustrates that the capitals represented most often in terms of impact for the SEATS
initiative are social (36%) and human (28%). This reiterates the importance of social and
human capital through SEATS development and growth. Cultural, political, and financial
capitals all came equally at 12% which is an increase of the presence of these three capitals
as compared to the pre-existing and development stages of the initiative.
As noted in an interview with lead SEATS project partner Community Futures Entre-Corp,
there have been a number of direct impacts on the technology sector in the region since
“We have been approached by (and as a result presented to) the Terrestrial Imaging
group in Lethbridge who want to collaborate in the realm of unmanned vehicles. They
see this as an opportunity since unmanned vehicles are already a strong cluster
development in our region.”
“One of the provincial government funders, Alberta Advanced Education and Technology
(AAET), is now using SEATS to deliver programs and promote events. In March 2009,
we were notified that AAET would like to have an “Innovation Day” in the coming months
and bring down the Minister to talk about it. This is a two-way opportunity for AAET to
share what the government is interested and engaged in, as well as learn first-hand from
an area of the province where the technology sector is actively engaged. AAET now has
direct local connections to technology and innovation activity in South East Alberta,
which had never happened before.”
The above comments reinforces that the ‘progress in process’ has lead to positive results in
advancing the technology sector and community’s support to move forward. The connection
with Terrestrial Imaging directly links to bridging social capital (collaborating with an outside
group), human capital (to build the skills and capacity of the cluster) and built capital (the
cluster itself). The interest from AAET to engage the sector and region in an “Innovation
Day,” points to financial, human and social capitals in action and how the interconnectivity of
these capitals has impacted the technology sector, community partners, and funders.
Spiraling Up of Community Assets
Since its inception, SEATS’s development has lead to a flow of assets resulting in an
increase in multiple capitals. This study found the increases in both the stocks and flows of
social capital were the initiating factors in the spiraling up process of positive growth and
development of the project.
Figure 5: Spiraling Up of Capital Assets in SEATS Readiness and Project Development Stages
As illustrated in Figure 5, Social capital serves as the impetus to move SEATS forward.
Due to the existing and enhanced social capital, there has been an increase in the access to
skills, knowledge and resources (human capital) through the Cypress Technology Network,
the Medicine Hat College, and the business support services offered through Community
Futures Entre-Corp. This human capital in turn builds further social capital as businesses
and community stakeholders become more aware of each other and involved in the project.
The human capital also links to financial capital as additional knowledge and opportunities
are developed to expand new and existing businesses. Political capital is impacted because
more connections and awareness of technology initiatives is becoming known (both at local
and provincial levels). The human capital increased as a result of social capital also gives
more confidence and ability for technology companies to approach governments for support
and financing (political and financial capital). Together these capitals stimulate the
development and changes that have made progress on the SEATS initiative to date.
Although social capital often impacts the strength and weaknesses of other capitals, it is the
principle shifts in investments of all capitals that help to ‘connect the dots’ in understanding
the relationships of what community assets and resources are necessary to mobilize change.
Analyzing the interaction across various capitals in the SEATS project through the
Community Capitals Framework provides a mechanism for understanding the impacts that
can result when one or more capitals are invested to create new results (Flora, 2006). To
gain a full understanding of the interaction of community capitals, I used this study to capture
what community assets and resources existed at the start of SEATS as well as the
investment and change in community capitals that happened through the development of the
project. That is, how has the process of the SEATS initiative been impacted by the
community capitals? Has the investment of social and human capitals lead to investments of
At the onset of SEATS, social capital (with key partners and linkages to funders) was
mobilized around the human and built capital (existing technology infrastructure, businesses,
research and innovation at the Army Base) and financial capital (previous funding for the
development of a technology strategy plan to move the sector forward). Collectively, the
contribution of these capitals influencing the social capital to move SEATS forward– is all
part of a much larger system. Recognizing this interdependence of community capitals that
can influence, or be influenced by social capital helps to understand the impact of SEATS
beyond it’s goals, to the community or system as a whole (Emery and Flora, 2006).
Social Capital Invested
The SEATS project process facilitates the enhancement of social capital by building on
existing relationships (bonding social capital) and expanding to outside networks both within
the community and to external partners (bridging social capital). It is the strengthening of
these internal and external relationships that encourages community initiative, responsibility,
and adaptability (Flora and Flora, 2008).
Social capital is enhanced through the development of SEATS by the increase and strength
of networks between businesses, economic development groups, the Medicine Hat College,
community stakeholders, various levels of government, and connections to external
resources and networks in other parts of the province. As noted from interviews and SEATS
progress reports, there has been an increase in:
More businesses and partners are linked together through the creation of the “Cypress
Technology Network.” What started at 22 members in July 2007 is now at 66 (Bonding
and Bridging Social Capital).
The mentoring of entrepreneurs (through the creation of the Business Tech Incubator and
the work Community Futures Entre-Corp does to support entrepreneurs) has turned into
more bonding social capital between new and existing partnerships (Bonding Social
Local tech businesses are now linked to multiple economic development support groups
that can help them build skills and connect them to more opportunities for growth (Bridging
Social Capital and Human Capital)
There is a much stronger relationship with outside networks to government agencies,
specifically AAET (who previous to SEATS had no connection to community or businesses
in southern Alberta) (Bridging Social Capital)
More correspondence and connections to outside groups such as Calgary Technologies,
Terrestrial Imaging, Lethbridge Technology Network, etc (Bridging Social Capital).
SEATS full-time staff in place to liaise, inform, and support the tech industry & community
partners (Bridging Social Capital)
SEATS Strategies and Implementation Plan
Important to the analysis of SEATS is to show how the community capitals have influenced,
and continue to influence, SEATS strategies and implementation. The following chart in
Figure 6` demonstrates the strengths of community capitals influenced by the SEATS
Figure 6: Influence of Community Capitals in SEATS Strategy and Implementation
Capitals Influenced by SEATS Strategies
Strength of Capitals
Data Source: SEATS Strategy Document
To understand more closely how the capitals are influenced in each of the SEATS strategies,
the following table demonstrates the capitals that were either impacted or enhanced up to
March 2009 in the initiative’s development.
Table #2: Community Capitals Impacted and Enhanced in each of SEATS Strategies
SEATS Strategies / Implementation Natural Human Cultural Social PoliticalFinancial Built Total Caps
Impact / Strat
Training and workshops targeted at the x x x x x x 6
Leveraging technology-driven x x x x 4
Assisting companies with x x x 3
Introducing new Post-Secondary options x x x x 4
and increasing student numbers
Supporting technology sector and x x x x 4
individual business growth by providing
Coaching and networking x x x x x x 6
Building relationships with community x x x x x 5
and government stakeholders
Improving access to financial and human x x x x x x 6
Total Caps 0 8 6 8 5 8 3
| 30 Avg # of
Caps / Strat
Table 2 charts the SEATS strategies (created in July 2007) to see what capitals have been
impacted or enhanced in each (up to March 2009).
Of considerable relevance, the average number of community capitals impacted per strategy
is five. This signifies the importance of community capital interactions and their investments,
because it demonstrates the interdependence and fluidity of community capitals and their
application to project development and implementation.
Box 2: Example of Interconnectivity of Community Capitals on SEATS Strategy
Box 2 elaborates on one of SEATS’ strategies to show the interconnectivity and
interdependence of the community capitals that have been impacted or changed through the
development of the project.
SEATS Strategy: Training & workshops targeted at the technology sector
Capitals Impacted: 6
Human Capital: Monthly Cypress Technology Network meetings and presentations have
enabled technology businesses, Medicine Hat College, and Community Futures Entre-Corp
to gain knowledge, skills, and access to resources. Since the CTN is a platform for
technology partners to network, share resources and ideas, and learn from presentations
and speakers, social capital has also increased because more participants are coming to
meetings and there are linkages to businesses that were not in place prior to SEATS
(bridging social capital). When local politicians attended the CTN meeting to learn about
community technology infrastructure and how it could be applied, political capital was
influenced. Due to the networking and learning from other technology companies and
business support services available through the Cypress Technology Network (human and
social capitals), technology businesses also have a greater awareness of funding
opportunities and partnerships where they can explore access to financial support for
technology-driven ideas (financial and social capital). Since some of the training sessions
are now being offered via videoconference (Innovation Series), built capital has increased.
Cultural Capital: Training and workshops are becoming part of the culture of the Cypress
Technology Network. In turn, this has increased social capital and human capital as more
technology companies have joined and are actively participating in the training. Indirectly,
political capital is influenced because SEATS and Cypress Technology Network served as
the platform to engage the political connections in the community (social capital).
Social Capital: Through the training workshops and Cypress Technology Network
meetings there is an increase in networking and connections between tech companies and
other community stakeholders that did not exist prior to SEATS. The skills, knowledge and
resources shared at these meetings (human capital) is now reaching a broader connection
in the region (social capital). The human capital increased as a result of social capital also
gives more confidence and ability for technology companies to approach governments for
support and financing (political and financial capital).
Political Capital: Local politicians actively participating in CTN workshop (February 2009)
to learn more about community infrastructure (fiber optics to public homes)
Financial Capital: Financial capital is influenced in two ways. First, there is financial
support (through SEATS) to host training workshops. Second, Community Futures Entre-
Corp has gained knowledge on how to finance technology businesses to understand the
sector’s need (as well as learning what can be taken for collateral because it is not the
traditional form of lending). This impacts both financial and human capitals.
Built Capital: Utilization of videoconference infrastructure is now part of SEATS / Cypress
Technology Network’s “Innovation Series” Training. Connecting to other technology
companies and networks streamed in through these training sessions offers an opportunity
to connect and learn from others (human and social capitals).
Further explanation of how the capitals were impacted or enhanced in SEATS’ other
strategies is outlined in Appendix 3.
Absence of Capitals
During my research, only once was Natural Capital addressed. This came from one of
SEATS’s partners who was reflecting on the nature of the land in terms of the open space of
the prairies being an advantage for investment. Specifically, the comment was made
regarding the airspace above the Canadian Army base which incidentally is one of the
largest private airspaces in the world. While mention was made to open space and land, this
could also be seen as built capital even though the space is a natural element. The partner
interviewed felt that the boundaries given to this space (as well as rules and regulations
which guide this space) makes it such a valuable asset.
Utilizing the Community Capitals Framework as an analytic tool assists those involved in
community-driven initiatives understand how investing their community assets and resources
can effect positive change. This study focuses on the community capital assets that