Subject The article discusses the specificity of territorial differentiation of economic development of the Rostov oblast. It offers some conceptual lines of the oblast's spatial development planning, based on the determination of spatial skeleton and the formation of growth poles. Objectives The article aims to develop theoretical and methodological foundations of the concept of spatial development and tools for balanced socio-economic development of regions through the development and validation of a system of growth poles. Methods The study is based on the synergism of the concept of spatial skeleton, proposed by the Russian economic geography school (N. Baranskii, B. Khorev, G. Lappo) and the concept of growth poles (p?les de croissance) of economy elaborated by F. Perroux and J.-R. Boudeville. Results The article identifies the main factors that form the structure of the economic space of the Rostov oblast. As well, it identifies the levels of economic development, growth poles of the Rostov oblast, promising growth poles of agro-industrial type, and zones of intensive and prospective development depending on the availability of the spatial development skeleton. Conclusions Balanced spatial development of the Rostov oblast with limited resources requires shaping local growth poles through the targeted geographically differentiated economic policies. Such a policy should be reflected in the concentration of factors of economic development in selected priority areas on the basis of their field and competitive advantages. Outrunning growth in such locations will create the necessary conditions for connected development in adjacent areas or zones of growth pole influence.
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