Placed-Based People Strategy

Customizing Economic Development

What is the perfect economic development strategy? It depends on the community.

People often describe the economic development strategy of corporate tax breaks and subsidies as an old strategy that fails to work in today’s environment. One of the newer economic development ideas suggests that creating vibrant neighborhoods with many amenities will attract the type of workforce that will in turn bring in established businesses and create new ones.

At RSG we know that there is no silver bullet for any community's or region's economic development. Each effort requires consideration for both a city's individual characteristics and broader trends.

Sometimes an appropriate subsidy can serve as a catalyst to turn a neighborhood or local industry around, especially if it supports a policy goal. Contact us today to learn how we can help you craft and implement the perfect economic development strategy for your town.

Written by Dima Galkin, an Associate at RSG

Economic Development for People and Places

Aaron Renn recently wrote a thoughtful, balanced opinion piece about the dilemma between people-based and place-based economic development. People-based economic development is theoretically more effective. Place-based economic development, which is sometimes the only available approach for local governments because of their territorial nature, generally is structurally incentivized and provides quicker gratification.

At RSG, we are very familiar with this dilemma. Our clients are usually cities. We recognize that they need to generate property and sales taxes now to fund core services. Investments in education that pay off 20 years later (and possibly somewhere else) are needed, but difficult to justify. At the same time, with our focus on people and relationships, we know that people-based investments are more sound in the grand scheme of things.

Renn provides solid advice for state and federal governments to change the incentive structure to make it easier for local governments to pursue people-based economic development. Keeping in mind the glacial pace of state and federal policy change, we’re here to help cities balance economic development for both people and places.

Written by Dima Galkin, an Associate at RSG

Economic Development: People Vs. Place Strategies (Part 1)

The goal of economic development is complex and multifaceted.  It involves the revitalization of places that are rundown as well as the enhancement of social and economic mobility for people in the area.  The big question is whether economic development is about creating vibrant places to enhance the lives of the people living there or whether it is about improving the well-being of the people who live there to create a sense of place and community.

Cities often take three approaches in urban revitalization. A people-oriented strategy helps people without regard to where they live.  A place-based people strategy uses place-specific strategies to enhance the well-being of the people who live there.  A pure place-based strategy enhances the physical landscape and architectural design to improve the economic potential of a place without regard to the people who live there.

People-Oriented Strategy

Grounded on the idea that poor people with low skills need assistance regardless of whether they live, the goal is moving people from welfare to work.  Assumptions are that people need to have access to jobs and that people vote with their feet.  If they are not happy where they are, they should move to somewhere better.

This strategy is focused on human capital and improving access and mobility for individuals.  Examples include: education assistance, job training, housing assistance, relocation assistance and addressing skills gap and education gap.

Placed-Based People Strategy

With the premise that people cannot be separated from place, and strategies to combat poverty must treat individuals in the context of their community, the goal is to strengthen community institutions and enhance the standard of living for residents.  This strategy assumes that jobs need to be accessible to people and that community and place play an important role in people’s well-being.

This strategy is similar to people-based strategies, but the goal is to help people within a defined, targeted geography.  Examples include: job training for only city residents, housing assistance for a specific neighborhood and career counseling for university students.

Written by Jeff Khau who is an Analyst at RSG