Economic Recovery, Pop-Ups and Sports Stadiums: This Month in Economic Development

Our monthly roundup of the latest news in economic development filtered through a city-focused lens. Reading something interesting? Share it with @robbins617.

Cities and Unequal Economic Recovery. How are local economies faring now that the worst of the recession is behind us? NLC recently surveyed mayors across the country to find out. In Cities and Unequal Recovery, NLC’s Christiana McFarland and Emily Robbins examine local economic indicators in cities and reveal that economic recovery is following two distinct paths – economic conditions are improving for some, but worsening for others. The report serves as a resource for cities on implementing inclusive growth strategies around affordable housing, workforce development, and wages in order to encourage equity in local economies. Check out the report’s coverage in the Wall Street Journal.

LEC Infographic 2015-03

Mayors are Talking, and We’re Listening: State of the Cities 2015. Economic development, infrastructure, and public safety are the top three issues on the minds of mayors this year, according to the second annual analysis of mayors’ state of the city speeches conducted by NLC’s Brooks Rainwater, Christiana McFarland, and Micah Farver. Among the speeches analyzed for State of the Cities 2015, 75 percent discussed new or ongoing economic development strategies. Take a peek into the minds of mayors in the report, and also check out the Fast Company op-ed and the Washington Post article.

Examining the Pop-Up Phenomenon. Pop-up programs, such as temporary retail markets and short-term occupancy of vacant office space, are a relatively new recruitment technique for economic development. This interesting article from The Guardian explores how pop-ups are popping up across the country, and examines whether or not these temporary solutions could lead to permanent benefits within our cities.

Are Local Businesses Vanishing? Speaking of vacant storefronts, this Governing piece highlights how gentrification in New York City is displacing local mom and pop businesses at a higher rate than ever. In particular, businesses are seeing their rents double or triple in price because of high-demand. A local blogger made the striking observation that, “Small businesses aren’t just struggling – they are being targeted for assassination.” NLC recently covered this issue in a blog post, along with some strategies cities are using to address commercial vacancies.

How the “Dark Store” Method is Hurting Commercial Property Tax Collection. The Institute for Local Self Reliance recently shared an eye-opening report on how big box companies can potentially manipulate property tax assessments in their favor, while putting local government budgets in jeopardy.

Ideas of the Month: The Old Takoma Business Association in Maryland recently launched a tailored loan program for small businesses funded by local investors from the community. Also, in Baltimore, a very generous restaurant made reservations during Restaurant Week only for those who can’t afford to pay.

What We’re Reading. The City Initiatives for Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CITIE) report from Nesta, Accenture, and Future Cities Catapult. (This is really a must-read.)

John Oliver, host of HBO's "Last Week Tonight."

John Oliver, host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight.”

For a Laugh. HBO’s John Oliver from Last Week Tonight made some really interesting arguments for why local governments shouldn’t financially support the construction of privately-owned sports stadiums. Get ready to get outraged. (Note, some of the language is NSFW.)

Thing to Know: The Internet of Things. Get used to hearing this phrase. The Kauffman Foundation offers up an explanation for why it matters.

Links to previous editions of This Month in Economic Development are here, here, here, here, and here.

Robbins_small (2)About the author: Emily Robbins is the Senior Associate of Finance and Economic Development at NLC. Follow Emily on Twitter: @robbins617.