The free market-based policies of the corporate community model have skewed economic development across the South. For many small, rural communities, the consequences of global capitalism have resulted in declining real wages, high underemployment, and increasing rates of income inequality. Backed by recent scholarship and grassroots movements that suggest that both civic engagement and the presence of smaller-scale, locally controlled enterprises can help determine whether communities prosper or decline, this paper explores the links between social structure and rural development in the South. The goal is to expand our understanding of civic community theory as an alternative to the neoclassical economic model of development. Using a local problem-solving framework, we suggest that a departure from the traditional, neoclassical path of development is in order. We conclude that rural policy makers must establish a role for civic community in the rural development process if they wish to protect the welfare of workers and communities, while increasing the prospects of economic growth with prosperity.