Oddly, a good way for a town to survive a recession turns out to be having a college around. Not a wealthy college or even a famous or well-known college, just a college, any college. According to an article in USA Today:
A USA Today analysis reveals two categories of cities that have weathered the recession and housing market meltdown better than many boomtowns: College towns and state capitals. In some cases, these cities have grown even faster during the recession than before.
In smaller cities in particular, anchor institutions such as universities and governments have provided a buffer against economic whiplash. Often the main employers in the city and metropolitan area, these segments are less affected by economic fluctuations.
This is good news for towns like Madison, Wisconsin, which is both a college town and a state capital.
The news of economic growth apparently comes from the Census, which revealed that the downward trends across the country were reversed in college towns
The growth rate of cities populations reached 11 percent in 2006 and dropped to 5 percent from 2006 to 2009. But the median annual growth rate increased in a sample of college towns across the country.