Back to the Future Roadmap

We need “A Rethink”

A post-Great Recession Debate

And that is what the Journal wants to promote with its March “new and improved” mission

“Know thyself” used to be good advice. To conduct this debate without benefit of a two-hundred year history strikes me as an exercise doomed to failure, an exercise in egotism and arrogance.

Our past is not what most economic developers think it is. It offers the lessons of experience, the persistence of perennial issues—and most of all—Humility and Heroes/Heroines

The Journal will do its part by incrementally, every three months, by adding FREE new “modules” that chronologically presents our ED past with observations to their present-day relevance. While no comprehensive history is without its limitations and biases, its omissions and pure errors, like Wikipedia the online format allows civil critique and ongoing modification before formal publishing. I pledge to rise above partisanship, rely on professionals and scholars for material, and will be, as always, the irritating Curmudgeon.

In addition, “beta” versions of the ED histories of key cities and various states periodically will be posted online—for information and critique. They will eventually be rewritten and published in a new book—with due credits, of course. My estate will keep the royalties.

A History of American State and Local Economic Development: AS TWO SHIPS

Skeptical? My recent book, As Two Ships: A History of American State and Local Government, 1790-1980 (752 pages) was published May 1917 and it has since been sharpened by additional research. I have been writing other books since 2008. They are already quite advanced. In essence, much of what you will see over the next two years has already been researched and written—it is not simple good intentions or a pipedream.

It will all begin in mid-to-late March. At that point the first two “Themes”, containing between 10 to 15 modules of about 4000 words each (six to eight pages) will be posted online. All you have to do is click on the module and do your thing. It is best, however, to “take the course” in sequence and chronology. That the comprehensive history will take two years to post is simple reality.

The initial March launch will “introduce” us to essential historical lessons from 1790 to 1890. It will contain modules devoted entirely to northern, southern and western economic development reflecting history’s inescapable lesson that the history of American economic development evolved differently in each of our many regions.

In March an introduction to AS TWO SHIPS conceptual framework (Theme 1) will be provided. Theme 2 outlines the development of Early Republic and Gilded Age economic and community development. Snapshots of important economic developers, like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Josiah Quincy and Andrew Jackson Downing (who’s he?) will litter the modules.

In the early summer we will offer more themes and modules to carry you probably to the 1920’s. There will be more after that. I need flexibility so to not make commitments I cannot satisfy.

In between case studies of the two-hundred year ED history of cities and states will be posted. Over fifteen cities and ten states are already in final production. Cities like San Jose, Chicago, Boston, Miami, Los Angeles, Seattle–and snapshots of a host of others–will be available by year’s end (BTW I can use reader help in all that–contact me if interested). States like Arizona, Connecticut, Tennessee, California, Indiana, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Michigan, and hopefully Texas ( I need help) are already in first draft. Together with the history, you can really get a feel for what the other guy has done/is doing in economic development.

Read/Print them at your leisure.

Please quote them and tell a friend who might be interested.


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