Economic Development: People Vs. Place Strategies (Part 2)

Pure Place Strategy

Aimed at improving the well-being of people within and outside of the target area (spill-over effects) because pockets of blight are detrimental to the economic vitality of the region at large, this strategy attempts to physically improve blighted and vacant areas with high crime rates where there may be little or no residents.  It provides tax incentives for companies to move into blighted areas in hopes that their presence helps to mitigate crime.

Examples include downtown CBD revitalization, empowerment zones or Business Improvement Districts and redevelopment.

How is economic development used to help people living in blighted areas and ghettos?  In a people-oriented approach, there would be ways to move poor people out of the ghettos and into places with better access to jobs and other resources.  By getting these people to a better place where they can thrive, cities would take a bottom-up approach to economic development.  A place-based people approach would increase jobs within ghettos where poor people live with the idea of working with what exists and building a community where these people can thrive in a bottom-up approach to economic development.  A pure place-based approach would attempt to attract investors who have the money to change the physical appearance of an area and increase land value.  By fixing the area to create value and opportunities for people in and around the area, cities would take a top-down approach to economic development.

While the economy is bouncing back, there is little hope that redevelopment agencies will return.  There is no one-size-fits all strategy, and context matters.  Cities looking to champion economic development initiatives must assess the cost-effectiveness of these strategies.

Economic development is a loaded term.  When cities pursue ED initiatives they should define it in terms of function and form.  What is the purpose of economic development? (FUNCTION)  What does the implementation of it look like? (FORM)