Putting a Face on Economic Development

Article excerpt

Putting a Face on Economic Development Managing Local Economic Development: Cases in Decision Making Published by the International City/County Management Association www.icma.org 2004; 168 pages; $21.95

In ICMA's recently published book entitled Managing Local Economic Development: Cases in Decision Making, Editor James M. Banovitz attempts to and largely succeeds in laying out the complex multi-dimensional landscape that is modern economic development. This book will provide entry-level practitioners with a broad overview of issues facing state and local governments, while also providing seasoned economic development professionals a glimpse into how colleagues have managed through the complexities of the economic development process to achieve the goals of their respective communities.

This book is meant to supplement introductory and advanced courses in economic development. It is particularly effective in helping the reader understand the broad range of issues faced by practitioners when evaluating, selling, executing, and financing development projects. The nine case studies included in this book put a human face on the challenges that must be overcome for economic development projects to move forward. Each is crafted in such a way that the reader is drawn into the story and can understand both the goals of the project and the challenges facing those trying to move it forward. One reason the case studies work so well is that most are co-authored by the managers who were involved in the project. This lends a personal touch to the cases that makes them all the more interesting to read.

Each case focuses on a specific problem or issue in local economic development based on the experiences of counties, large metropolitan regions, medium-size cities, and small cities. As such, the reader is able to understand the impact of economic development policy on different types of communities. The cases cover a broad range of development activities including planning, land use, neighborhood redevelopment, housing, workforce development, and economic forecasting - giving the reader an opportunity to examine the complexities inherent in each. The collection is refreshing in that it delves into the political aspects of economic development projects. This is critical information to understand as a practitioner, and it helps impress on the reader the very real challenge of balancing the needs of politicians, private sector stakeholders, and the public. …