Journal of Applied Research in Economic Development

Rethinking Economic and Community Development in the Era of Trump


January's Issue:

Breaking Up (Paradigms) is Hard to Do:

A New Way to Think About State and Local Economic Development

Through the Lens of Forgotten People



Latest Articles

March 2014

You Think Working Where You Work is Bad? Try Working Here

Communities, even in the same state, want different things from economic development. They choose similar policies and programs sometimes, but “operate” their economic development programs in rather distinctive ways. And so, political culture enters into the day-to-day of economic development.

February 2014

Part II: How to Stop Digging the Legacy City Hole Deeper

A few weeks ago we published Part I of  our commentary on the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy report, Regenerating America’s Legacy Cities by Alan Mallach and Lavea Brachman. To refresh the reader, the Lincoln Institute report defines and identifies eighteen “legacy cities” as central cities with a minimum population of 50,000 (2010)  who have suffered more than a twenty […]

January 2014

First Step in Revitalizing Legacy Cities: Stop Digging the Hole Deeper (Part I)

It’s no secret in economic development that some American cities are in deep, deep trouble. They are deep into a hole that at times seems bottomless. Detroit made the headlines in recent months, but we all know that many Great Lakes big cities and several older manufacturing centers have very serious issues. The Curmudgeon spent […]

November 2013

The Road Less Traveled: For Economic Developers who have the Courage to be Different

As an economic developer you’re not supposed to do it–pick winners, that is! Can’t really be done, we’re told–just like timing the stock market. This advice is a truism and like all truisms, it’s true up to a point. No doubt it is correct that one cannot consistently pick winners and avoid losers.  There’s one problem […]

October 2013

Detroit: Why Bankruptcy? Why Bankruptcy Now?

Like it or not, the Detroit bankruptcy filing is a page turner. What insights and lessons might an economic developer glean from it? That is our task in this issue. Since July 18th when the City of Detroit filed for the nation’s largest ever (in terms of debt) municipal bankruptcy, the Curmudgeon has been buried under an avalanche of different ideas explaining […]

September 2013

How Can I Create My Favorite State Ranking?

This article examines some of the methodological underpinnings of state economic rankings and what this means for interpreting rankings. State rankings typically are comprised of multiple measures and indicators, and the creators of these indexes face a difficult decision concerning which measures and indicators to include or exclude when making an overall ranking. This issue is compounded when rankings employ different weights to different components of measures and indicators, valuing one measure or indicator over another. We construct a hypothetical state ranking of entrepreneurship and innovation to demonstrate issues with selecting state economic rankings are both pervasive and popular.

July 2013

The New Normal II: Economic Developers, Export, and the Global Finance System

The New Normal II: Economic Developers, Export, and the Global Finance and Trade System
Fault Lines: How Hidden Fractures Still Threaten the World Economy by Raghuram Rajan
Now the Curmudgeon trespasses into the world of export, global finance, and trade. Boundaries obviously mean little to him–should they mean much more to you our community economic developer? Is export more risky than often portrayed? Plus an added feature–how the Fault Lines of Global Finance brought the United States into the New Normal. How did forty years of stagnant wage and income levels lead to the accumulation of massive amount of debt that made financial collapse unavoidable?

June 2013

Do Economic Developers know what they are doing? The Curmudgeon in Wonderland!

Do Economic Developers know what they are doing? The Curmudgeon in Wonderland! Have Economic Developers fallen into a rabbit hole? Have they lost sight of what it is they are supposed to be doing? Is creating jobs as a goal a sure way for the Queen of Hearts to say “Off with your Head”?
The Curmudgeon, having considerable experience with the Alice in Wonderland world of economic development, offers a host of reasons why having job creation as your goal for economic development programs and strategies ensures madness, disappointment and worse for your agency, for the community and for your career. In the Curmudgeon’s Wonderland-world economic developers do a whole lot more than mere job creation—it’s time we rethink just what it is we are doing as Economic Developers! Save your profession, help your community and increase your odds of career survival

May 2013

Silicon Valley and Route 128: The Camelots of Economic Development

Silicon Valley and the Route 128 Massachusetts Miracle are a bit of reality and myth tossed together like a Caesar salad. In recent years, the Silicon Valley, in particular, has become a Camelot of sorts for economic developers–a place where the mythical king of technology, innovation and creativity ruled over the dominion of the knowledge-based economy. These magical geographies have personified the holy grail of economic development. What are the realities behind these legends? What lessons can we learn?

March 2013

Political Culture: the Mistoffelees of Economic Development

Economic Development is a frustrating profession! Everything an economic developer reads these days offers the great magic strategy or solution to the revitalization of your community. No economic developer is likely to admit it, but they have tried most of these strategies and, while some work better than others, none really works as advertised. Why? Because there is a secret known only to a few economic developers. What is that secret? One size-fits all-magic bullet-strategies don’t work because each community is in its own way different. Why is each community different? Because of something called political and social culture. What is political and social culture? Read on and get introduced to the Mr. Mistoffelees of Economic Development.