Merritt is a resource-based community located in the south central interior of British Columbia. The economy was centred on the timber, mining and ranching sectors, but each of these has experienced significant challenges and even decline in recent years. According to social indices published by B.C. Stats, a provincial government agency, Merritt is not among British Columbia's better places to live. It ranks as the second worst community in B.C. in terms of overall socio-economic index – a weighted measure that considers economic hardship, crime, health, education, and children and youth at risk (calculated in 2002). Merritt faces significant challenges in providing social quality of place.
Led by Dr. Kevin Hanna, the objectives of the Merritt Case Study are to understand the factors that affect the ability of such places to sustain themselves economically and socially, and the potential role that social networks can play in the response to economic change. Work in Merritt will yield results that contribute to a scholarly knowledge of social capital in a small transitional resource-based community, interpretations of sustainability, and local social dynamics and networks. Such knowledge is ultimately of pragmatic value in the development and implementation of public policy and local social/economic development programs.