Way more than a blog……..not quite academic research

More in depth than a Blog. Shorter, more understandable than most academic research! The Journal of Applied Research asks questions about economic development that you wanted to ask—but no one wanted to answer.

The Journal combines street-level experience with the best ED theory and research, sensitive to the time needs of professionals, but offering a demanding, yet lighter and readable approach to difficult questions and complex topics. Crafted by a sarcastic, skeptical blather mouth Curmudgeon with decades of experience, a PhD, and a now-expired CEcD, how could you go wrong?

Our reviews provide a solid perspective to give you a professional edge–without the professional pomposity. 


Organized into SEVEN THEMES, updated on a semi-monthly basis, the Journal will review, critique and mostly inform readers about the best and most important books, articles, and think-tank policy and research.

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Part II: The First Step in Revitalizing Legacy Cities: Stop Digging the Hole Deeper

 Part II of Legacy Cities: Stop Digging the Hole Deeper is an intensive review of the Lincoln Institute’s Report “Regenerating America’s Legacy Cities” by Alan Mallach and Lavea Brachman.

In Part II of the Review the Curmudgeon suggests that the conventional wisdom underlying the Lincoln Institute’s approach to regionalism does not facilitate effective solutions in the revitalization of legacy cities. In fact, that rationale can hinder it seriously.

As defined by this conventional wisdom, regionalism involves fair amounts of redistribution and huge doses of “return to the golden years”, both of which turn off non-central city metropolitan jurisdictions. To make the suburbs responsible for social equity concerns and the so-called “legacy costs” of the central city drives them nuts. Abandoning this rhetoric and rationale is the first step in how to stop digging the legacy hole deeper.

Modern suburbanization began about one hundred years ago. since 1970 a majority of Americans have lived in the suburbs–suburbs are an acknowledged fact today. Legacy and central city revitalization should move on from the “golden years”. Instead central cities should forge partnerships with suburbs in their multi-nodal metropolitan regions. And these partnerships should be based on shared interests not redistribution or retribution for past evils.  CLICK HERE

January Issue: The First Step in Revitalizing Legacy Cities: Stop Digging the Hole Deeper

Recently, the Lincoln Institute issued a report, based on several years of research and analysis by its authors. The thinking behind this report is platinum or the highest quality. The Curmudgeon believes it is the best summary of contemporary professional “conventional wisdom” regarding the path to legacy city revitalization. Let’s dig into the Lincoln Institute Report. For the Curmudgeon, the first step in legacy city revitalization is for these cities to “STOP DIGGING”: don’t make the hole they are in any deeper!  Interested?  CLICK HERE


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 with this sage piece of advice, however–an economic developer is paid to pick winners.  The problem is the way most economic developers pick winners these days creates a herd-like, un-thoughtful approach to community development. The Curmudgeon advocates a path less traveled. This path relies on Profit Sector theory developed by Ann Markusen.  So add The Road Less Traveled: For Economic Developers who have the Courage to be Different your reading list.              CLICK HERE

DETROIT: Why Bankruptcy Now? 

The Curmudgeon poses and definitively answers several questions: Did Detroit’s political leadership stand idly by and watch the city decline? Did Suburbanization and the Flight of Whites and Jobs Push Detroit in Bankruptcy? Did Detroit spend itself silly? Why did the City Implode in 2013?                                              Detroit: Why Bankruptcy Now: Is HERE!


 How Can I Create My Favorite State Business Climate Ranking: The Unappreciated Pitfalls in Statistical Indexes–

Yasuyuki Motoyama, Ph.D. and Jared Konczal –Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

A primer for economic developers to better understand why “the numbers” are not always “what the numbers are”. Motoyama and Konczal demonstrate how the use of statistics can easily lead to flawed, or at least “flexible”, state rankings in almost any state business climate index. The startling afterthought—why are state business climate indexes so pervasive and so meaningless at the same time?  CLICK HERE 

Do Economic Developers know what they are doing?          

 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”?  To check out the Economic Development rabbit hole    CLICK HERE

 The Themes

The various reviews and commentary prepared by the Curmudgeon are grouped into seven themes (see below). Each review offers the reader our take on an issue important to economic developers. These are not short blogs, but are an attempt to provide background theory and explanation intended to deepen and sharpen the reader’s professional expertise. On a regular basis additional reviews and commentary (what the Curmudgeon calls “blather”) will be added. To take a gander at what’s available, the reader should select a theme for a further description of what is included. Clicking on an article review will present the reader with a choice between an executive description of the review OR the entire article review.

Click on a Theme and Take a Gander at our Reviews and Blathers.

The Macro Economic Environment: The New Normal
Local Culture, Politics & Economic Development
The Art and Dubious Science of Targeting and Picking Winners
Innovation & Knowledge Based Economies
Regions & Clusters
Famous Books by Famous Authors
Traditional Economic Development Strategies & Tools

AND who is the Curmudgeon?

The now infamous Economic Development Curmudgeon is the cranky, yet dark and evil side of the JOURNAL’S very nice and friendly editor Ron Coan. The Curmudgeon in his earlier life garnered a PhD in Public Administration (Political Science & Public Policy) and Soviet (Communist) Economics. That strange combination should alert, even the most casual observer, that the Curmudgeon’s way of looking at things is a wee bit off the beaten track.

But not to fear, after fifteen years as a tenured Program Chair in Urban Studies and Public Administration at two collegiate institutions, the Curmudgeon began a second distinguished and much criticized fifteen year economic development career in New York state. Serving as First Deputy Commissioner of Planning, Economic Development Coordinator and then for more than fifteen years CEO of two New York county economic development corporations, not to mention chairmanship of the New York State Economic Development Council, slightly over ten years service on the Board of the International Economic Development Council (CUED), and a CEcD certification (which has now expired). And now he is Senior Fellow at C2ER.

Over this cacophony of a career, the Curmudgeon has acquired scars in places most people don’t even have. His scars have scars. He also made every economic development mistake in the book–at least twice. If you learn through your mistakes, the Curmudgeon has much to offer. Retired since 2005, the Curmudgeon presently is the Journal’s editor. He is also writing the definitive text on local economic development.