This course will look at the theory and practice of economic development at the local and regional level, mostly in the context of cities and regions in the United States. It will consider policies, strategies, and programs for dealing with the decline and revitalization of neighborhoods, communities, cities, towns, and regions. The course will focus on forces that create change in communities and the tools and best practices that are available to address these forces. The course will focus on both theory and case studies, and will explore strategies and solutions in an interdisciplinary fashion.
Economic development typically involves the strategic use of public funds and programs to enable private investment to succeed. At its best, economic development creates a triple bottom-line solution, benefiting business, the community, and the environment.
The course seeks to understand, through case studies, the economic and political challenges to developing an economic development strategy, and the application of technical skills and planning knowledge to ensure that economic development strategies are successful.
The course is broken into three segments:
1. Economic development theory: Understanding the theoretical basis for regional, local, and neighborhood economic development.
2. Economic development toolkit: Programs and best practices from across the country, including strategies used by local governments and nonprofit organizations as well as tools available at state and federal levels.
3. Case studies in economic development: Strategies to bring together programs in the economic development toolkit to solve problems and improve communities at different scales.
The course will include individual analytical work on the case studies as well as a team client project where students will work to address a complex economic development challenge in a local community.