Anchor Institutions, Motor City Match, and Teacher Housing: This Month in Economic Development

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Our monthly roundup of the latest news in economic development filtered through a city-focused lens. This month’s roundup features resources shared at the Congress of Cities (CoC) meeting in Nashville. Reading something interesting? Share it with @robbins617.

Federal Dollars Help Match Business with Bricks and Mortar in Detroit. The Motor City Match program, funded by Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) and operated by Detroit’s economic development corporation, pairs local business owners looking to open up a bricks and mortar shop with building owners who have vacant commercial space. In addition to the site selection assistance, the program also provides technical assistance and grant funding to help the businesses grow, and the building owners receive grants to put towards infrastructure improvements. (Program details can be found here.)

The Motor City Match program in Detroit connects business owners with vacant space.
The Motor City Match program in Detroit connects business owners with vacant space.

Improving Local Relationships with Anchor Institutions. The partnership between local governments and anchor institutions is critical, but it’s often difficult to sustain the momentum needed to maintain a mutually beneficial relationship. A research team from the National Resource Network, the Urban Institute, and NYU’s Wagner School of Public Service recently authored a report that provides a roadmap for strengthening relationships with anchor institutions. Striking a Grand (Local) Bargain recommends strategies for establishing a bargain, leveraging support mechanisms, and maintaining an ecosystem for collaboration. Neil Kleiman from NYU recently guest-authored a blog post for NLC summarizing the highlights of the report. (Related: A research brief from Brookings outlines the impact colleges and their graduates have on local economies.)

Bring Your Downtown to Life (NLC Conference Highlights). Cities large and small convened around the importance of making downtown an attractive destination for residents and tourists. San Antonio’s Assistant City Manager, Lori Houston, shared her city’s efforts to revitalize downtown with pop-up shops and a vacant building registration program. Mayor Gary Chesney of Morristown, Tenn., showcased how his city’s downtown bounced back from a devastating flood and is now focusing on revitalizing its main street. Former Mayor of Ventura, Bill Fulton, discussed effective strategies for downtown parking management.

Cutting Red Tape to Promote Business Growth (NLC Conference Highlights). Mayor Tim Reed of Brookings, South Dakota, Mayor Yarber and Jason Goree of Jackson, Miss., and Jessica Casey from the Plymouth Regional Economic Foundation shared advice and best practices on how to streamline city government regulations to promote local business growth. Strategies discussed include a regulatory reform framework, Brookings’ Startup in a Day action plan, and Jackson’s Business Startup Checklist.

No More Waiting in Line, Cities Launch New Permitting Portals. Boston, Indianapolis, and St. Petersburg are all fulfilling their Startup in a Day pledge to create online application portals for business permits and licenses. Mayor Walsh recently launched the Boston Permits & Licenses portal, Mayor Ballard announced OpenCounter Indy, and Mayor Kriseman introduced Stop, Drop & Go for small construction projects in St. Petersburg.

Idea of the Month: Subsidized Housing for Public Educators. Recruiting and retaining a top notch education workforce means providing them with an affordable place to live. Check out how some cities are preventing good teachers from fleeing to the suburbs by offering adorable housing subsidies.

What We’re Reading. PolicyLink’s equitable development toolkits. New York City’s mapping tool of each neighborhoods’ economic indicators.

For a Laugh. Gentrification is by no means a laughing matter, but this South Park episode is. The Comedy Central show’s creators mock how neighborhood transformations often bring luxury condos, Whole Foods, and strange nicknames to formerly underserved parts of town. Welcome to SoDoSoPa.

Emily Robbins
Emily Robbins

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