Economic Development: Helping to 'Do More with Less.' (Special Report: Expanding Economic Horizons)

Article excerpt

Economic development is a major challenge facing us today as local elected officials. While citizens press us to lower taxes and fees, they also ask us to provide new programs and improve service delivery. As elected officials, our challenge is to "do more with less," and economic development is a key tool available to help bridge those apparent conflicting demands from our citizens.

Some important issues that the CED Committee is discussing include:

All Economics Is Local

We read media reports that the national economy is improving, yet many officials wonder why that good fortune hasn't necessarily filtered down to all of us locally. One explanation is found in a new NLC report on the relationship between national and local economics that argues, "All economics is local." Local Economies: The U.S. Common Market of Local Economic Regions challenges accepted notions about the U.S. economy.

Instead of framing the economy in national terms bounded by political jurisdictions, the NLC report re-frames it as a collection of interdependent local economic regions (LERs) that form a U.S. "common market." LERs are mostly metropolitan-centered, integrated economics, of which central cities and suburbs are interdependent parts. Unfortunately, this idea of a U.S. common market, or "economic federalism," doesn't blend naturally with our three-tiered, "political federalism" of federal, state, and local jurisdictions.

This new way of looking at economics elevates the importance of municipalities in national economic policy -- a potent arena of federal policymaking. For the CED Committee, the responsibilities include careful attention to how economic policy is made for the U.S. common market. For elected officials in general, responsibilities include how to make good economic policy for each local economy.

Investing In Communities

Another economic challenge facing our communities is the extent that financial institutions invest locally. …