Spatial Dynamics in the Urban Century
Edited by Karima Kourtit, Peter Nijkamp and Roger R. Stough
Chapter 13: How should cities manage economic development? Highlights from theory and practice
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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