Economic Development Pursuits: From Traditional Financial Tools to Alternative Economic Development Strategies
(Housing, Community Development, and Urban Policy)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Recently much attention has been paid to large-scale economic development deals such as is the case with Amazon HQ2.0. While it has long been recognized that these incentives are rarely worthwhile from a cost-benefit standpoint (Bartik, 2003), the politics tends to supersede the economic considerations (Jensen & Meleski, 2018; Wolman & Spitzley, 1996). Yet, economic development is far more than the usage of selective incentives, though that pursuit remains important at the state and local levels.
The four papers in this panel present compelling research on the different pathways that are utilized to achieve economic development and growth. The paper by Stokan, Deslatte, and Hatch draws on 20 years of economic development decisions (1994-2014) of a nationally representative sample of local governments across the United States employs a longitudinal analysis of economic development decisions to empirically determine why local governments have pursued different economic development policies (e.g. policies in line with economic growth or equity). One effort that these local governments are increasingly engaged in is developing technology clusters. The paper by Jewitt & Angelouv explores the economic development incentives and outcomes related to local government’s desire to foster these clusters. Beyond developing technology clusters, governments often develop their physical infrastructure as a means to bolster their economic and fiscal climates. Overton’s article in this panel analyzes how transportation infrastructure impacts these outcomes at the community block-group level in Dallas County, TX. Finally, the paper by Theodos draws on more than two dozen sources of data to explores the distribution of capital financing in Baltimore. His work finds that it is fragmented by race, income, and geography with implications for the economic development environment.
Collectively, these papers cover economic development from a wide range of perspectives across the United States and over many years. Additionally, they envision economic development activity not simply as a set of tax breaks, but something that can be accomplished through alternative approaches through enhancement to the physical and financial infrastructure of the community.