About: The Economic Development Curmudgeon

edcurmudgeon@gmail.com

The now infamous Economic Development Curmudgeon is the cranky, yet dark and evil side of the very nice and friendly editor Ron Coan. The Curmudgeon is the writer behind IN THE TRENCHES and you will notice that brooding presence enjoys the byline beginning in March 2011.

Recent Posts

Breaking Up [Paradigms] is so Hard-to-Do

President Trump’s challenge compels us to confront the Forgotten People problem swept under the rug by economic developers current paradigms: innovation, knowledge-based economics, university-led economic development, and “gazelle” clusters and occupations. The January article redefines Forgotten People, presents an alternative way to “do” economic development at the state and local level and offers four thought-provoking programs that involve nothing less than a new approach to economic and community development–a community-based, community rebuilding, Back to the New Deal, service sector-focused skills-development employment.

SLOW GROWTH AND POPULIST PUSHBACK: The Times They are a ‘Changing

“The times they are a-changing”.The article outlines the link between populism and slow economic growth. Free trade is the accepted paradigm of global finance and trade. Free trade is characterized by a “lag and shift” dynamic that has made life for our “Forgotten People, the working and lower classes. hell, hence the rise of a hostile populism. Look for no real help to those who are hurt by free trade from these ideologies and paradigmatic economic development strategies. Class and culture distinctions create a serious gap between conventional economic development strategies. Economic development can close that gap by offering jobs, training, and place-based redevelopment to improve the lot of the Forgotten People.

Let’s Take a Stroll Down Memory Lane: Victor Gruen and the Central Business District

City versus suburbs used to be a very big issue in economic development. It still is! So let’s take a stroll down economic development’s “memory lane”–to the days of 1950’s CBD collapse and resurrect its then- potential savior, the “father of suburban malls”, Victor Gruen. Gruen tried to save the CBD and revitalize the central city–but that has been fogged over by time. What can we learn from Gruen? Why did he fail? What lessons can we glean from these very important years when suburbs became suburbs and central cities assumed their present status in our metro areas?

Community Development in the Ghetto: a Review of Bennett Harrison’s Survey of Ghetto-Based Community Development

In this review, I question whether community development in deeply depressed neighborhoods involves a dynamic that further complicates success of its initiatives. That dynamic is race. More often than not, community development initiatives occur in predominately African-American low-income neighborhoods. In this article I raise the issue as to whether the residents of these neighborhoods prefer assimilation over their current neighborhood–a place that houses the “community”. What if a sizeable percentage of residents do not want to assimilate, or define their personal assimilation in such ways that render assimilation difficult. Do recent community mobilizing movements potentially affect the success of current and future community development initiatives by encouraging place-based solutions for African-Americans. Assimilation in such a context becomes a cultural cul du sac that threatens to create a perpetual ghetto.

Community Development: It’s Time to Question the Basics

This issue offers an unasked for critique of several community development issues/principles that reflects an outsider’s sense that this very significant economic development approach is at a crossroads. My recommendation is that community developers might rethink of a couple of long-standing conceptual pillars which have come to be dysfunctional. As a benchmark I will dredge up a perspective, now almost seventy years old, that I believe will be helpful.

What Can ED Learn from Baltimore’s Sandtown?

Let’s turn the recent Baltimore riots into a teachable hour for economic developers. Sandtown, Freddie Gray’s neighborhood, offers a unique and fascinating perspective on neighborhood-level, people-based economic development. So let’s task ourselves with the following objectives: (1) briefly outline the two types of community development that were applied to Sandtown; and (2) review post 1990 Sandtown community development(s), participants and their objectives; (3) briefly critique Sandtown-style community development, finally conclude, and send you off on your merry way.

Questioning Paradigms: Manchester England and the Plight of Legacy Cities

Manchester and other northern UK cities share many of the same problems as our Northeast and Midwest Great Lakes legacy cities–they have lost a great deal of their economic meaning because of changes in logistics and deindustrialization. At the moment their national government has launched a major effort to promote “northern cities” economic development. What can we learn from them?

Questioning the Value of Economic Multiplier Estimates

What if anything do estimated economic multipliers really mean? What are some basic principles policymakers should use when thinking about the prospective impact of new projects in their communities? Click Questioning the Value of Economic Multiplier Estimates and see what Edward G. Keating, Irina Danescu, and Robert Murphy from the RAND Corporation have to say?

Chambers of Commerce: First Wave Magicians of Main Street

Can you believe up to now no one has written a modern history of American chambers of commerce? Not until Chris Mead recently published his one-of-a-kind Magicians on Main Street. So let’s use Magicians of Main Street and investigate how well the conventional wisdom concerning the FIRST Wave of economic development holds up. If the First Wave doesn’t prove accurate–what does it say about the other two waves?

Economic Developers: Ignore the Glitz! Focus on What Matters

The core idea behind this series of articles is to help local economic developers navigate and function effectively within their communities–sort of an on-the-job helpful advice. In this issue, we deepen our understanding of the Policy/Practitioner World nexus building upon two elements introduced in the first issue. To penetrate more deeply into the local situation, we will also introduce a new concept: “the policy cycle”. The thrust of our article/series is to move from the glitz–concentrate on making programs work–concentrate on developing programs that address community concerns. problems, and opportunities as they see and feel them.