Journal of Applied Research in Economic Development

An Introduction to A History of American State and Local Government: As Two Ships Pass in the Night


Dr. Ron W. Coan

Editor of the Journal of Applied Research in Economic Development

Senior Fellow, Council for Community and Economic Research

A New Way to Think About State and Local Economic Development

 As Two Ships:

A History of American State and Local Government: As Two Ships Pass in the Night

 Yogi Berra supposedly claimed "the future ain't what it used to be" --- well either is our past. Back to the roots of American economic development.

How we got to where we are today. 

Latest Articles

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.

February 2013

Business Climate and the Second War Between the States

In October 2011 the Curmudgeon wrote a review entitled “Business Climate in the New Normal”. This is both a MAJOR rewrite and a SIGNIFICANT update. Business Climate and the Second War Between the States (Or Do We Mean the Political Parties) Everyone in economic development has heard about state business climate and the ratings and rankings that are published by virtually every Think […]

January 2013

The Ghost of Christmas Future:

The last installment of the Oscar-Forgotten Small Business Trilogy finally has arrived.In the third installment, the all too predictable Ghost of Christmas Future, delves into the horrible underlying, real-life story behind start ups and gazelles and how (if) a young and promising economic developer can hitch them up to his/her community revitalization. The issue endsoptimistically by offering a few suggestions on how a sub-state economic developer can actually use some of this Think Tank babble.

December 2012

The Ghost of Christmas Present: Ok, It's Not True But Is There a Truism That Is True?

  The first article in our Tolkien-like small business trilogy asks (asked) the question if , as claimed in the Economic Development  truism, “small business is the nation’s best and greatest job creator” is actually true and literally correct. A related question that follows from the Truism is: “Are start ups the best, most dynamic job creators […]

December 2012

The Ghost of Christmas Past: Small Business is the Best Job Creator is a Truism, but that doesn't mean it's True

This article, The Ghost of Christmas Past, is the first in our Small Business Holiday Trilogy. The Ghost of Christmas Past describes how and why the Small Business Truism came to be, and how Evil Forces successfully questioned its validity. Is small business our best new net job creator? Open up the first of three Christmas visitors to your email box and find out.

In subsequent issues over the Christmas and New Years holidays we shall send out The Ghosts of the Small Business Present and Future which carry the research on Small Business job creation to the present day and into the future.

November 2012

The New Geography of Jobs (Enrico Moretti)

Enrico Moretti’s, The New Geography of Jobs (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston, 2012). has been exceptionally well received by many of the economic development literari. Some commentators have described New Geography as the best economic development book of 2012. And if you don’t read New Geography, you would also miss reading the best, most readable explanation and defense of innovation, knowledge-based economics and their effects on the location of jobs in the United States. There is a lot going on in New Geography. You should read on because what lies below the thematic visible tip of New Geography and innovation economics is its frank and realistic understanding of what innovation economics can do and not do, and, perhaps more important, the linkage of innovation economics with American culture and society.

October 2012

Confessions of a Serial Tax Abater

There’s nothing more controversial in the life of an economic developer than to provide a property tax abatement to a company. Yet, it is done more and more and is a central tool in just about all our economic development strategies. In his most recent review, Confessions of a Serial Tax Abater, the Curmudgeon provides some perspective, analysis, critique and guidance. He also vents and critiques a prominent review in the academic literature on tax abatement. Not to be missed, check out and read all the sordid details about property tax abatement in Confessions of a Serial Tax Abater.

August 2012

What's the Theory Behind Innovation and the Knowledge-Based Economy

Who are the Gods of Innovation and Knowledge-Based Economics? Who “Thunk” It Up? Where Did It Come From? Don’t Know? Then this review is The Perfect Take It to the Beach-Labor Day Reading — Innovation Economics–Everything you wanted to know (AND LOTS AND LOTS MORE) about the economics underlying innovation, creativity, entrepreneurship and the knowledge-based economy. Learn about Romer, Krugman, Lucas, Solow and Schumpter from our review of David Warsh’s, Knowledge and the Wealth of Nations.