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5 principles for remaking economic development to generate growth, prosperity, and inclusion

“Embracing a broader vision of economic development is an economic and fiscal imperative,” Amy Liu writes in her new report, “Remaking Economic Development: The markets and civics of continuous growth and prosperity.” Liu, vice president and director of the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings, continues that “Our nation’s economic competitiveness and social cohesion remain threatened.”

In the report, Liu presents a framework for and case studies of a deeper practice of economic development that generates “continuous growth, prosperity, and inclusion.” All too often, she says, city and regional leaders focus too much on “top-line” growth—such as taxpayer-funded incentives for business relocation—that doesn’t “ensure bottom line prosperity.”

Liu lays out five action principles for regional leaders in all sectors to apply to put their regions on higher growth trajectories.

remakingeconomicdevelopmentcover1. Set the right goals

“Leaders at the forefront of remaking economic development … set long-term goals that go beyond traditional headline economic indicators to achieve more robust measures of regional growth, productivity, and inclusion while also setting shorter-term metrics to monitor progress.”

Read a related blog post about Minneapolis-St. Paul >

2. Grow from within

“Leaders in new approaches to economic development focus on strengthening assets that enable their distinctive industries to flourish and grow from within, rather than rely primarily on marketing to recruit individual firms from elsewhere.”

Read a related blog post about Phoenix’s emergence as an innovation economy >

3. Boost trade

“Contemporary economic development leaders actively support and promote export growth and trade with other markets in the United States and around the world to deepen their industry clusters and bring new resources and income into the region.”

Read a related blog post on Wichita’s aviation trade with China >

4. Invest in people and skills

“With waves of retirements in the baby boom generation already underway—and increasing diversity amongst the youngest cohorts of workers—the economic potential of every metro region depends on its effectiveness at mobilizing talent and equipping workers with the skills demanded by the leading industries in their community.”

Read a related blog post about how Memphis is tacking workforce challenges >

5. Connect place

“The most forward-leaning leaders are harnessing regional markets and connecting local communities to them. Markets— industrial, labor, and housing—are regional, but the people and assets that matter to markets are local. … To create the market lift that raises incomes and opportunities for as many people as possible, economic development should focus on regional scale solutions to support strong, innovative industry clusters.”

Read a related blog post about new approaches to economic development in Upstate New York >

Download the full report here.

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