Traditional Strategies and Tools of Local Economic Development

Business retention, revolving loan funds, tax increment financing, tourism, bond issuance, PILOTs, tax abatement…

All are examples of the core strategies and tools utilized every day by most economic developers. Sometimes controversial, oftentimes boringly commonplace, often misunderstood– and almost always in need of some explanation as to why they work and why economic developers use them.

In their day, they might have been sexy like clusters and innovation–but age and gravity has taken their toll. They are now pervasive. Like two aspirin, they work wonders but who cares anymore. We do!

The problem with our traditional strategies and tools is that people mess with them. In particular media,  academics and sometimes the research institutes and think tanks. Often when they translate our strategies and tools into academic and policy research, the description and analysis of these strategies and tools gets distorted–sometimes downright manipulated. Does the expression, hatchet job come to your lips?

Our initial focus is tax abatement. These days, those are fighting words, but as the old-time economic developers know, tax abatement was never very popular and was always under attack. Take a gander at how academic research has dealt with tax abatement. Over the next few decades, the Curmudgeon will also take a look at eminent domain, use of universities as an economic development tool, and maybe economic development zones, and real estate-based economic development.

Don’t fret over Traditional Strategies and Tools of Local Economic Development.

Articles in 'Traditonal Strategies and Tools of Economic Development'

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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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.

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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?

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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

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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.

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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 […]

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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.

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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.

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