National Survey of Regional and Local Economic Development Efforts

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National Survey of Regional and Local Economic Development Efforts
Forward Cities conducted a national survey of regional and local economic development initiatives that emphasizes entrepreneurship and innovation, with an emphasis on including historically underserved individuals and communities as an important and intentional part of their local and regional competitiveness strategy.

A survey was conducted of the thirty-five largest cities in the US by population, excluding the largest two cities – New York City and Los Angeles. Out of these thirty-five cities, the sixteen cities with dedicated economic development plans at the local and regional level (vs strategic plans with an economic development component) were analyzed. Each plan was reviewed for its overall focus as well as for its “Innovation/Entrepreneurship” and “Inclusion/Diversity” focus.
“Innovation/Entrepreneurship” and “Inclusion/Diversity” were defined as follows:

  • Innovation/Entrepreneurship – A focus on developing a multi-resource support system for “homegrown” local enterprises to launch and scale in ways that contribute to the city/region’s standard of living goals for its populace.
  • Inclusion/Diversity – A focus on including historically underserved individuals and communities into high-growth entrepreneurial ecosystems and wealth building strategies and policy.

Here is how this tool should be used:

CityPlan TitlePlan FociInclusive Innovation Notes
Chicago, ILA Plan for Economic Jobs and Growth(2012)
-Manufacturing; Headquarters & Business Services; Transportation & Logistics; Tourism and Entertainment; Exports; Human Capital, Innovation & Entrepreneurship; The Built Environment: Physical & Virtual Infrastructure; Public & Civic Institutions
"Innovation" focuses on research at local universities; plan doesn't speak specifically to creating diverse pipeline for opportunities. "Talent" acquisition focused on traditional avenues - business school students and skilled labor.
Northern Illinois Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy(2016)
-Regional Infrastructure, Connectivity, & Collaboration
-Industry clusters: Advanced Manufacturing; Transportation. Logistics, & Distribution; Agriculture and Food Processing; Healthcare & Medical
Focus is mainly on manufacturing and infrastructure, no real note on diversity or meeting needs of underserved populations; some focus on regional alignment and an effort to coordinate with existing plans
Houston, TXEconomic Development Initiative Strategic Plan(2012)-Building the Houston brand, making city “city of first choice” in regards to quality of life for individuals and families
-Promote the region to be the first considered by business owners with regard to expansion or relocation
Some focus on cultivating new businesses but main focus is in supporting/expanding existing business and recruiting existing businesses, no intentionality around involving diverse populations
2014-2018 Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy(2014)-The region is home to the world’s largest medical center, second busiest port in the country, and NASA
-Goals include: resilient economy, skilled workforce, transportation, education opportunities, resources, preserving water and natural resources
“Support new enterprise” is only one bullet under "workforce development," diverse stakeholders involved in planning; plan very focused on infrastructure + connectivity of rural areas vs metro business dev
San Diego, CAThe City of San DiegoEconomicDevelopmentStrategy(2014)-Economic base sectors: Manufacturing & innovation; International Trade and Logistics; Military; Tourism
-Efforts to support economic development: City Services & Operations; Workforce Development & Education; City Relationships with External Organizations
Focused on increasing the amount of middle wage jobs; neighborhood business initiative focused on small, locally owned businesses, especially in underserved neighborhoods
2016-2020 Central, Southand East San Diego CountyComprehensive EconomicDevelopment Strategy(2016)-Benchmarking included traditional metrics such as job growth and some non-traditional metrics such as wealth creation (Gross Domestic Product (GDP), income) and innovation (number of patents)
-Stated goal to create new jobs through public and private sector investment, recruitment of new businesses, business startups and existing business expansions
Specific metrics around innovation (including VC investment and patents filed); business startups are a focus alongside business recruitment and growth resources for established businesses
San Francisco, CA
San Francisco Economic Strategy(2015)-Barriers to jobs growth not lack of jobs but: Labor Housing Costs; Commercial Rent Costs; Business Tax and RegulationsIndustry and innovation is clearly a part of San Francisco's brand. However, there are also notes about middle class housing and addressing equity in opportunity.
Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act 4-Year Regional Planning Unit Plan and Related Local Plans Program Years 2017-2020(2017)-Main 3 goals: Collaborative, regional workforce support strategies (especially training and transportation); demand-driven skills attainment and training; upward mobility and employment opportunities for unemployed as well as under-employed individualsFocused more on workforce development vs innovation and entrepreneurship
San Jose, CAEconomic Strategy 2010(2010)Two pronged economic development:
-San Jose’s most urgent need is to regain jobs for its growing population and revenue for City services and infrastructure investment.
-And the City must create the strong, distinctive community success factors required to stay competitive and attractive over the longer term.
Heavy focus on innovation and entrepreneurship as a job creation vehicle, some thought to race/ethnic diversity (esp educated children of immigrants) but not as much to socioeconomic diversity and underserved communities
Regional Economic Development InitiativeExecutive Summary(2014)
-Main goal: creation of a regional economic development entity with the purpose of growing jobs, businesses and the economy in the Silicon Valley.
-Some goals of entity would be: region promotion, business expansion and retention, business recruitment, business creation
Business growth and entrepreneurship is one of six "core objectives"
Fort Worth , TXEconomic Development Strategic Plan City of Forth Worth(2017)Some opportunities identified were:
-Key industries: health care, aerospace, logistics
-Entrepreneurship & tech (people & real estate)
Highly innovative AND inclusive with a targested focus on "entrepreneurial ecosystem" and supporting "women and minority owned businesses"
Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy for the North Central Texas Region(2015)Five key goals include: cultivating a skilled workforce, industry clusters/economic development, creating an “entrepreneur friendly” region, regional transportation and public infrastructure, comprehensive community development (affordable housing, poverty reduction, etc.)Focus on making region "entrepreneur friendly," not as much said about supporting enterprise in underserved areas, rather a lot of attention paid to workforce development, etc.
Denver, COJumpStart 2017;2017 Strategic Plan(2017)Three prong approach which includes:
(1) broadening the tax base;
(2) stimulating balanced economic growth through business assistance, neighborhood revitalization and the development of a skilled workforce;
(3) focus on innovation, sustainability and education.
Plan is both inclusive and innovative w/ economic development efforts focused around neighborhood innovation and entrepreneurship and avoiding displacement, has commission a study to discovery opportunity gaps for women and minority entrepreneurs
Regional Economic Strategy for theDenver Regional Council of Governments(2014)-Three categories of goals include: incorporating economic and “social wellbeing and equity” into MetroVision plan; better use of local data; foster stronger partnership and collaboration
-Success metrics include: Employment and Business Assets; Population and Quality of Life Assets; and Transportation Access
Some focus on new business development but primary focus is on land use, transportation, and quality of life; “equity” is a theme but focus is mostly on workforce development and poverty alleviation
Washington, DC
WASHINGTON, DC Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy(2010)Four strategic area foci:
-City with a Diversified & Accessible Economy
-City of Distinctive & Robust Neighborhoods
-Creative, Innovative & International City
-Green & Sustainable City
One of their six priorities is to make DC a place people desire to business. Two concrete inclusive innovation strategies:
commercialization & small
business development; shared workspace and incubation in underserved
The Five-Year Economic Development Strategy for the District of Columbia(2012)-Two prong focus on growing & diversifying economy and preparing workforce
-Six prong vision: business-friendly economy; largest technology center on East coast; national destination site; end of retail leakage; global medical center; destination for foreign investors, businesses, and tourists
Main focus on diversifying economy by recruiting established businesses (national and foreign), particularly in the health, technology, and government sector; and stopping retail leakage. Some attention paid to entrepreneurial development and making DC “business friendly”
Boston, MAEconomicDevelopment Working Group Transition Team Report(2014)Primary foci:
-Develop pathways to overcome income & wealth disparity and disproportionate opportunity
-Establish stronger connection between education and workforce development
-Support businesses through programs that foster growth & job creation
-Establish fair and transparent policies on land use & dev.
-Est an environment that promotes entrepreneurship
-Enhance environment of innovation and technology
-Recreate robust environment of tourism, arts, and culture
Acknowledgement and attention given to the city's income disparities as well as focus being given to entrepreneurial development and strategic land use to support said development
Boston MetroFuture(2008)-Regional areas broken into: Metropolitan Core; Regional Hubs; Suburban Centers; Transportation Corridor; Priority Conservation Areas
-Goals include: Sustainable growth in cities and town centers; increased housing choice and affordability; community vitality and prosperity; transportation; and energy, air, water, and wildlife considerations
Economic focus is on competing in the knowledge economy; leading in green tech and clean energy sectors. Plan cites entrepreneurship as a “hallmark of the new economy,” however does not detail how opportunity will be made accessible to historically underserved populations.
Oklahoma City, OKstrengthen OKC(2014)-“Employment and opportunity” is one of five primary goals including: education, place making, public safety, and fiscal healthFocus is completely on job creation via “facilitating commercial and industrial development to grow
and diversify our economy” and not innovation or entrepreneurship
ComprehensiveEconomic DevelopmentStrategy for Central Oklahoma(2012)For primary goals make up strategic plan, including:
(1) Retain and expand existing business and attract new businesses; (2) Coordinate efforts with regional partners; (3) Develop, retain, and attract talent; (4) Enhance and promote quality of place
Primary goal is to retain and grow current business and attract establish business rather than foster entrepreneurship - no real intentional focus around inclusion, culture, or diversity
Portland , ORCity of Portland Economic Development Strategy-Build competitiveness of economy around four industry clusters, including clean tech, software, activewear, and advanced manufacturing
-Urban Innovation – maintain and advertise city’s distinctive urban setting and sustainable way of life
-Build the capacity of local entrepreneurs to innovate and compete in the global economy
Lots of innovation focus centered on becoming the “international leader in green building;" the entrepreneurial focus centers on cultivating neighborhood enterprises serving local markets.
Introduces the concept of "economic gardening" - the belief that local entrepreneurial firms, rather than firms recruited from outside the region, are the engine for the creation of wealth and new jobs. Also intentional focus and metrics around inclusivity and equity.
GREATER PORTLAND 2020 Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy(2015)The goal of this core strategy is to RECRUIT, DEVELOP AND ADVANCE THE REGION’S TALENT. Priorities include:
-Activate industry in training and education to advance career and technical education.
-Own, practice, and perfect diversity.
-Close the income gap in underrepresented, disadvantage populations.
“Greater Portland is the best metro in which diverse talent thrives and where businesses are at the
forefront of attracting, advancing and effectively engaging diverse talent.” Plan focuses on diversity as well as entrepreneurial growth at the center of driving jobs and attracting talent.
Tucson, AZThe Economic Environment(2013)Plan broken into four segments:
-Jobs & Workforce Development
-Business Climate
-Regional & Global Positioning
-Tourism & Quality of Life
Focus is primarily on attracting established businesses. Some focus on urban revitalization and infill projects but aside from the usual entrepreneurial assets (SBA, Chamber, etc) no true focus on entrepreneurship or innovation
Economic DevelopmentElementStated goals include: Aid the protection of our existing employers; Create a welcoming climate to new business develop-ment, outside investment, and relocation of companies and employers; Bolster opportunities for job growth; Leverage the Sun Corridor and other regional collaboration efforts; Strengthen commitment to tourism as an economic engine; Reaffirm construction of infrastructure, commercial, residential, and public and community facilities; Create and maintain a positive climate for business; Capitalize on our people as an economic driver; Establish art districts as an economic development tool for redevelopment and revitalization;
And; Repair and restore our streets and highways.
Emphasis on creating a "welcoming business climate” with a focus on getting businesses to move in. Some interesting work merging arts and entrepreneurship but cultivating innovation is not a stated priority. Focus on people refers to skilled labor force vs entrepreneurial opportunities for underserved communities.

Collaborative Economic Development Recommended Reading

With urbanization driving global growth and more competition for regional, national, and international attention and investment, it is more important than ever that cities, counties, economic development organizations, and other community stakeholders invested in creating inclusive and innovative ecosystems create collaborative in a number of key areas.

From smart growth, to doing more with less, to winning buy-in for community change, the articles below explore what can happen when cities invest in collaborative frameworks focused on clear, cohesive, and unified economic development strategies in their region and beyond.

Over the planning hurdle, how regions implement economic development strategy– This overview of challenges faced by regional planning bodies can provide insight for how cities can help their regions put visions and strategies into practice.

Collaboration Promotes Economic Development and Advances Sustainability – A look at how the east Bay Economic Development Alliance successfully employed regional collaborative strategies to not only build the local economy but also improve the quality of life in their community.

3 Ways Cities in the Same Metro Area Can Benefit from Working Together – At the 2016 Intelligent Community Forum Summit, members explored what it means for cities that are essentially competitors in economic development to work together.

When Cities and Suburbs Work Together – A look at how metropolitan areas like Denver and New York are shunning competition and focusing on how entire regions can work together to reach economic goals.

A Collaborative Approach to Urban Economic Development – An exploration of how larger regions can benefit from a consistent and collaborative economic development strategy.

Regional alignment, not competition: How Greater Milwaukee is remaking economic development – Using Milwaukee as a case study, this article explores the area’s collaborative regional initiative designed to spur economic growth.

White Papers:
Collaborative Regional Economic Development Models Study – Commissioned by the 3920 Alliance, this report examines three collaborative regional economic development models using five carefully selected and relevant examples, identifying the respective advantages and disadvantages of each model.

Regional Partnerships and Metropolitan Economic Development – This article employs survival analysis and multilevel growth curve models to examine how the emergence of regional partnership arrangements influences patterns of economic development in U.S. metropolitan areas.

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