See today’s Times-News article re: “
The article below gives a national perspective on the issue. “Traditional” economic development programs (industrial/business parks, spec buildings, etc.) are very important and it makes a lot of sense to place them at a level of government that is larger than a single municipality. Marketing the region and its component sites is also more effective at a regional level.
However, cities across the nation are embarking upon initiatives such as retail recruitment, waterfront development, downtown redevelopment, quality of life projects, higher education initiatives, transportation initiatives, higher design standards, and many “special projects” including coordination with many partner agencies (see article below). All of these have a profound impact on economic development as the article describes, but they’re not considered “traditional” economic development.
For background purposes,
Getting economic development into the mix.
By Al Zelinka, AICP, and Jennifer Gates
Ask planners if they are involved in economic development in their community and often the response is "no" or "not really," when the answer ought to be "yes."
Too often, planners defer to their city's economic development department or the local chamber of commerce — or give the nod to the local redevelopment agency, private industry council, visitors and convention bureau, or downtown merchants association. In fact, there is a tight link between community economic development and planning — and abundant resources for planners who want to participate in the economic development of their community.
To make those linkages, we contacted eight planning and economic development professionals with different geographical focuses (rural, small town, city, regional, national, international) and different types of economic development practice. We asked them to define economic development, describe the role that planners play in economic development, and cite economic development projects that involved planners. What we found out is explained below.
Building wealth and well-being
There are as many definitions of economic development as there are people and organizations practicing it. To some experts, economic development means reducing a community's cost of living while increasing income. To others, it means generating jobs and increasing sales tax revenue. Here are some possible definitions:
On its website, the International Economic Development Council defines economic development as "a process that influences growth and restructuring of an economy to enhance the economic well-being of a community."
Edward Blakely, the author of Planning and Local Economic Development, who now teaches architecture at the
Taking a page from the economists, Peg Barringer, a nationally recognized economic development and urban planning consultant and educator with OKM Associates in
Donovan Rypkema, principal of Place Economics in
Manuel Martinez, director of real estate development for the Opa-locka Community Development Corporation in
For the purposes of this article, economic development may be thought of as an organized effort by a public or nonprofit group, possibly in partnership with other entities, to reduce the cost of living, increase asset accumulation and income, improve property tax base, expand job opportunities, and enhance the overall quality of life for a neighborhood, district, city, or region. Planners surely can find many different choices under such a big umbrella.
Private firms seldom combine planning and economic development, and the same is true in municipal government. However, that doesn't mean the two activities should occur separately. We believe the opposite is true — despite the barriers.
Vincent DiCara of Development Consulting Services in
Still, planners are already playing an essential role in economic development. Planners work in economic development corporations or the economic development departments of local governments. In these jobs, they analyze market conditions and develop business recruitment strategies. In local planning departments, they may focus on the land-use and regulatory framework needed for an economic development project to proceed, or they may prepare long-range plans for the economic and physical revitalization of a specific area.
David O'Neil, a public market consultant and senior associate with the Project for Public Spaces in
That's when the 42nd Street Development Project, a subsidiary of the New York State Urban Development Corporation, worked with the New York City Economic Development Corporation, city council, city planning department, and private developers to prepare a plan focused on removing blight by creating an entertainment and retail district for the 13-acre area between Seventh and Eighth avenues around 42nd Street.
Many planners played a role in the public, private, and nonprofit partnerships that were formed to transform
The bottom line
On a personal level, as residents of communities, we know that economic development means being gainfully employed, investing, buying a house, and saving for retirement. At the community level, economic development often implies increasing sales tax revenues, expanding job opportunities, and building bricks-and-mortar projects. As planners, our understanding of economic development depends on our training, professional experience, and job position.
No matter what the economic development activity occurring in a particular community, planners can be involved in some capacity — because of their broad knowledge of what it takes to create and sustain healthy communities as well as their ability to gather and analyze the necessary information. When planners and other economic development professionals work together, a more cohesive, sustainable project is likely.
Don Rypkema offers an eight-point test that is useful for identifying effective and sustainable economic development efforts:
Al Zelinka is a principal of RBF Consulting's Urban Design Studio. He is the coauthor of SafeScape (published in 2001 by the APA's Planners Press) and is certified in community economic development by NeighborWorks
Farm to Market
By David O'Neil
The Lynchburg Community Market in
In 1999, the city's planning department issued a Downtown and Riverfront Master Plan that suggested that an improved community market could serve as a catalyst for reviving adjacent retail and residential activities. Accepting the challenge, the city council has committed $1 million annually since 2001 to seed implementation projects. New riverfront parks, upgraded streetscapes, welcoming gateways, and a renovated performing arts building are among the successes to date.
The area surrounding the market is proving especially attractive to private developers, who are working with the city to convert empty buildings into loft apartments with ground-floor retail. A community market task force is expected to make strategic recommendations to the city council this spring in the interest of improving the historic market property as a hub for the local economy and civic life.
David O'Neil is a senior associate with the Project for Public Spaces in
By Al Zelinka, AICP
Taft has the highest concentration of year-round residents in
The Taft Redevelopment Plan: Rediscovering the Village and Taft Mixed Use Village Core Zone were completed in June 2000. The plan, an outcome of an intense six-month effort, is a prototype for planners in small and mid-sized communities seeking to play an integral role in community economic development efforts. Planners from the city's planning department, its consultant team, the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers were involved in every aspect of the project. While economic development experts conducted market studies and prepared business development guides, planners captured the community's vision and prepared a step-by-step implementation program that would attain economic development objectives.
Significant progress has been made over the past four years. More than $10 million has been invested in public infrastructure. The waterfront has been revamped as more than 15 new businesses have opened their doors, several businesses have expanded, and local lodgings have undergone extensive remodeling — all citing increased market demand as a reason for the changes. Public spaces have been added. More than a dozen businesses have rehabilitation loans, and many more have improved their properties without any public assistance.
A historic auto garage has been converted into a glass blowing foundry, which will soon be open for business. And the community is working with private developers and public agencies to craft the final piece of the Taft Redevelopment Plan: the
Image Residents of
Images: Top — Planners help businesses large and small like the
Training. The Economic Development Directory (www.ecodevdirectory.com) provides links to more than 2,000 economic development-related resources. The National Congress for Community Economic Development (www.ncced.org), the trade association for community development corporations and the community economic development industry, offers numerous downloadable publications available for sale. NeighborWorks
The International Economic Development Council (www.iedconline.org) has teamed up with the
APA and ACSP. Another resource is the American Planning Association's Economic Development Division: www.planning.org/economic.
For information on planning degrees with a focus on economic development, visit the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning website (www.acsp.org) and review individual program areas of concentration; many include concentrations in economic development, real estate, and public finance.
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
Money Matters -- Getting economic development into the mix
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