economic development

Making the Economic Development Process Accessible to Students

November 2, 2018 // 0 Comments

By Davia Cox Downey | Economic development is a complex process by which local entities compete for development projects. Theory development in this area has ranged from descriptions of the economies of corporate clustering, transportation cost networks, central place theory, growth machine theory, and transaction cost theories to name a few.  While these theoretical perspectives provide a basis for understanding "why" cities need economic development to survive in a highly competitive, fractured metropolitan space, these theories do little to show students the "how" of economic development decision-making.  I use a classroom exercise to illustrate the process of economic development. Traditionally, I have used the city of East Lansing, a small midwestern city with issues of town and gown relations, but this assignment can be retrofitted to a city of any size. Read More

An Applied Economic Development Project for Urban Politics Classes

October 15, 2018 // 1 Comment

By Aaron Weinschenk | I have the pleasure of teaching an upper-level political science course called “Urban Politics & Policy.” In order to help my students connect what they are learning to real-life situations, I have them (in small groups) create economic development plans for actual U.S. cities. To make the project challenging, I usually pick 6 or 7 struggling U.S. cities and assign them to the groups. (This year’s cities are Detroit, Toledo, Buffalo, Tucson, Stockton, and Memphis). I want students to have to think seriously about issues like poverty and unemployment that are so common in many of today’s urban areas. The groups work on their plans over the course of the semester and at the end give 20-30 minute presentations to the class and turn in professional economic development reports, which are usually around 25-pages. Read More

The Equity/Economic Development Tradeoff in Cross-sector Collaborations

February 5, 2018 // 0 Comments

Melissa Arnold Lyon and Jeffrey R. Henig | On a chilly October morning in Buffalo, New York, the Executive Director of Say Yes Buffalo sits at a table in a high school library with a group of about 20 community leaders. The group includes two local foundation leaders, the president of the local teachers union, a top school official, the vice president of a parent advocacy group, a few local higher education representatives, and a representative from the County Department of Social Services, among others. They gather for these meetings once every three weeks. On the agenda today is a discussion about inviting a representative from the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority to join this group, known as the Operating Committee of Say Yes Buffalo, as well as an update on programmatic data for initiatives such as school-based legal clinics, mental health clinics, mobile health units, and summer camps. During these updates, implementation challenges are discussed and the participants volunteer or call upon each other to figure out solutions. Not every issue is resolved, but the Operating Committee works together, argues a little, and eventually determines what it can accomplish.  Read More