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