The Rise of the City

The Rise of the City

Spatial Dynamics in the Urban Century

New Horizons in Regional Science series

Edited by Karima Kourtit, Peter Nijkamp and Roger R. Stough

This book examines urban growth and the dynamics that are transforming the city and city regions in the 21st century focusing specifically on the spatial aspects of this process in the “Urban Century”. Forces that are driving city growth include agglomeration spillovers, concentration of innovation and entrepreneurship, diversity of information and knowledge resources, and better amenities and higher wages. These benefits produce a positive reinforcing system that attracts more people with new ideas and information, fuelling innovation, new products and services and more high-wage jobs, thereby attracting more people. Such growth also produces undesirable effects such as air and water pollution, poverty, congestion and crowding. These combined factors both impact and change the geography and spatial dynamics of the city. These transformations and the public policies that may be critical to the quality of life, both today and in the future, are the substance of this book.

Chapter 13: How should cities manage economic development? Highlights from theory and practice

Marlon G. Boarnet and Richard K. Green

Subjects: economics and finance, economics of innovation, urban economics, geography, cities, urban and regional studies, cities, urban economics


In the world’s first urban century, cities are increasingly economic engines and agglomeration benefits appear to be more important than ever. Against that backdrop, it is likely that cities will compete ever more fiercely for mobile capital. Virtually every city of even modest size has formal and informal efforts to boost economic development. Many localities offer place-based tax breaks, targeted infrastructure, job training, or programs that streamline or waive regulatory reviews to promote job or income growth. At the local level, officials often promote real estate development as a path toward economic development. Economic development is often combined or even conflated with real estate development. While we believe the two activities are not the same, place-based economic development policy deals with the most place-based of all resources – land – and real estate development and local economic development will often be linked in practice. Economic and real estate development policies are often animated by a need to “do something,” and the political pressures can be immense. All of this means that the world of policy and practice combines economics and planning (or land development) in a political environment. The implication of combining those two activities has rarely been appreciated.

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