The Formula for Economic Growth on Main Street America / Edition 1

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The community that establishes and maintains a solid economic framework greatly improves its chances of sustaining itself through fluctuations in the economy. The question is, of course, how can city officials and administrators make this happen? The Formula for Economic Growth on Main Street America examines why economic growth during the late twentieth century was marked by the dramatic rise of some communities and the equally stunning demise of others. This book identifies the key components of sustained economic growth as well as the policies, actions, and inactions that are precursors to the decline of local economies.

Based on the author's 25 years of experience as president of one of America's foremost economic development agencies, and his involvement in assisting communities around the world, the book shows how to assess the needs of communities and details what is needed to put plans in place. Drawing on case studies, the book illustrates lessons learned and how they can be applied, including

What steps elected and administrative officials can take to stabilize and enhance the growth of their cities

Why the growth of some communities within a single regional marketplace can dramatically outpace that of neighbors possessing similar locations and assets

How communities can establish programs that sustain economic growth and provide jobs-without raising taxes

As communities struggle to cope with diminished tax revenues, the idea of achieving sustainable growth without raising taxes seems too good to be true. Tapping into the same strategies that allowed Fairfax County, Virginia, to enjoy triple-digit job growth while reducing property taxes, Dr. Gerald Gordon provides the framework and strategies to weather most economic storms and chart a course toward sustainable economic development.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Dr. Gordon has provided a comprehensive, analytic, and clear look at the importance and complexity of economic growth. His book provides a necessary framework and concrete examples. … an important read for both the expert and the student.
— Dr. Alan Merten, President, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia

Local economic growth requires true leadership. Dr. Gordon’s 25 years of experience in Fairfax County have yielded the kinds of valuable insights that can benefit other communities.
— Steven L. Davis, Chairman, Fairfax County Economic Development Authority & Former Senior Executive, Exxon Mobil Corporation

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Product Details

Table of Contents

List of Figures xiii

List of Tables xv

Preface xvii

About the Author xxi

1 Defining Economic Growth in a Changing Business Climate 1

1.1 Introduction 1

1.2 Economic Growth in Post-World War II America 2

1.3 Changing Views of Community Economic Growth through the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s 9

1.4 Births and Deaths of Companies, Industries, and Regions 12

1.5 Winners and Losers: Communities at the End of the Twentieth Century 13

1.6 Twenty-First Century Growth: Do Communities Compete in a Zero-Sum Game? 14

1.7 A working Definition of Local Economic Growth 16

1.8 The Relevance of Economic Growth to Today's Communities and Leadership 17

1.9 Concluding Thoughts 18

Notes 19

2 Viewing Economic Growth as Part of a Comprehensive Community Strategy 21

2.1 Introduction 21

2.2 Static Growth: If Communities Do Not Grow, Do They Die? 22

2.3 Building Economic Growth into the Master Plan 24

2.4 Theoretical Foundations for Local Economic Growth 26

2.5 Public Policies for Economic Growth: Dos and Don't-Dos 29

2.5.1 Tax Policies 32

2.5.2 Incentive Programs 32

2.5.3 Exercising the Right of Eminent Domain 35

2.5.4 Communicating Success 36

2.6 Emerging Directions for Community Growth 37

2.7 Viewing Local Economic Growth from Different Perspectives 38

2.7.1 Elected Officials 38

2.7.2 Practitioners 39

2.7.3 The Residential Community 40

2.7.4 The Business Community 41

2.8 Planning for Local Economic Growth 43

2.9 Concluding Thoughts 44

Notes 45

3 Local Economies in Decline: How to Lose the Business Base 47

3.1 Introduction 47

3.2 The Consequences of No-Growth Policies: Jobs, the Tax Base, and Economic Stagnation 48

3.3 Arresting Community Brain Drains 52

3.4 Community Gap Analyses 53

3.5 Where Public Policies Have Contributed to Job Losses or Slower Job Growth 56

3.6 Concluding Thoughts 60

Notes 61

4 Local Economic Recovery: Growth after the Fall 63

4.1 Can Losers Become Winners? 63

4.2 Cluster Economies 64

4.3 Case Studies 65

4.3.1 Northern California: Surviving Cutbacks in Manufacturing Jobs 65

4.3.2 Pittsburg: Rebuilding without Steel 69

4.3.3 Seattle: Overdependence on a Single Business 74

4.3.4 Houston: Diversifying the Economic Base 78

4.3.5 Concluding Thoughts 82

Notes 83

5 The New Growth Economies: Attracting and Retaining the Local Business Base 85

5.1 Making the Pro-Growth Case to Local Elected Officials 85

5.2 Marketing at Home and Abroad 87

5.3 A Tale of Two Cities: A Comparison of Long Island, New York, and Fairfax County, Virginia 88

5.4 Other Case Studies 91

5.4.1 Austin: University-Generated Growth 91

5.4.2 Las Vegas: Policy-Making to Encourage Growth 95

5.4.3 Phoenix: Rising in the Southwest 97

5.5 Rural Economic Growth: Are There Unique Lessons? 101

5.6 Regional Economic Growth: Are There Unique Lessons? 105

5.7 Starting up Start-Ups 109

5.8 Concluding Thoughts 110

Notes 110

6 Can Communities Suffer from Too Much Success? 113

6.1 Introduction 113

6.2 Magnifying Existing Problems 114

6.3 Addressing New Problems 116

6.4 Managing Local Expectations 117

Notes 119

7 Will the Formula Change?: Community Economic Growth in the Second Decade of the Millennium 121

7.1 The Growth Industries of Tomorrow 121

7.2 The Changing Components of Site Location Decisions 124

7.3 Diversification of the Local Economic Base 126

7.4 The Economics of Inclusion 128

7.5 Funding Local Economic Development: The Twin Pillars of Sufficiency and Consistency 130

7.6 Concluding Thoughts 131

Notes 132

8 Conclusions 133

8.1 Introduction 133

8.2 The Historical Context for This Book 134

8.3 Afterword 140

Notes 141

Appendix 143

Bibliography 147

Index 157

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