This paper contributes to the ongoing discussion about amenity-driven rural development strategies by examining the relationship between quality of life amenities and rural economic development in the Southeast USA. The premise is that what is true at a national level may provide a partial or misleading picture when we look at particular areas. Additionally, data available at the county level can often provide richer and more precise information than what is found at the national level. The paper estimates spatial regression models using county-level data. For the most part, the results suggest that the differences in quality of life and amenities factors can explain a large portion of the trend in per capita income, employment and population change across counties in the Southeast USA.