Local Economic Development: Policy, Practice and Theory

Cities are complex hubs of economic and social activity, conducive to efficient means of production. They also present challenging circumstances of inequity, segregation, and political power struggles. In this class, we begin with a formal introduction to the economics and fiscal operations of cities and the theoretical foundations for urban and local development.  What does ‘local economic development’ even mean or encompass from a municipal management or planning perspective? We explore planning and policy approaches to local economic development, such as people- versus place-based strategies, and grapple with their implications for economic wellbeing and equity. We consider local economic development holistically, drawing on insights from local public finance, land use, housing, workforce and small-business development, urban politics, and urban planning. The class provides students with a survey of classic and contemporary literature and casework on local economic development policies, as well as technical knowledge to design actual development interventions. Class discussions will incorporate actual cases of urban economic development scenarios, presentations from practitioners, and local field trips.