The Latest in Economic Development – 1.3.12

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A full Latest in Economic Development will return from its holiday hiatus next week, but in the meantime we wanted to briefly post about Mario Polèse’s City Journal article “Urban Development Legends.”  If you’re into economic development, it’s a must read.  The article offers a critique of the major economic development theories for the past 50 years and as the title suggest, the outlook isn’t too rosy. And while some of Polèse’s comments are not new to the field, the article provides an excellent summary and word of caution to those who think economic development problems can be solved by simply importing a strategy that worked somewhere else. Briefly, some of his critiques of major economic development theory’s are:

  • Branding: For a city’s brand to show results, it has to be believable.
  • Clusters : Today’s winning clusters may be tomorrow’s losing clusters.
  • Creative Cities: Do the cultural amenities of a “creative cities” attract prosperity and talent or are the product of it?

So is local economic development a hopeless pursuit?  To Polèse, not quite.  But instead of focusing on economic development fads and quick fixes, cities need to focus on good governance  and not hindering business.  To that, the folks on the NLC Economic Development team say AMEN!  Read the full article here.

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