Academic journal article International Journal of Economic Development

Cross-Border Local Development Policy: An Examination of Spacial Patterns

Academic journal article International Journal of Economic Development

Cross-Border Local Development Policy: An Examination of Spacial Patterns

Article excerpt

Abstract

This paper explicitly focuses on the relationship between geography or location and the economic development practices and policies within a community. More specifically, spatial relationships among communities on the Canadian/US border are examined to determine if similar approaches to local economic development can be identified based on spatial patterns regardless of nation of origin. Based on survey and census data in a geographic information system analysis limited national, regional, and state/provincial patterns in policy use are evident depending on the particular economic development policy considered. The lack of consistent patterns, however, directs policy analysis in a local direction to focus primarily on local issues--local structure, local economy, local players, and the local civic culture.

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The literature on why certain cities engage in particular types of economic development techniques tends to be fragmented and often contradictory. It rests primarily on data from US cities, has failed to offer robust explanations of policy practice, and has relied on a relatively stable and limited set of independent variables. These have commonly included political factors (residential or business input, professionalism of decision-makers, decision-making practices), economic/fiscal measures (tax base/rate, economic growth measures, median income of residents, property value), or structural variables (form of government, age of community, inter-city competition). While such research has provided insights into economic development policy processes and current practice, it fails, in a collective sense, to provide a theoretically cohesive explanation of policy and policy outcomes. Research has pointed to several critical factors which appear to impact local economic development practices missing from much current analysis: resources devoted to the economic development enterprise; enabling legislation; professionalism of development officials; the extent of planning and evaluation, and spatial patterns among communities (Reese and Malmer, 1994; Ohren and Reese, 1996; Reese, 1997; Reese, 1998; Reese and Rosenfeld, 1999).

This paper explicitly focuses on this last factor; the relationship between geography or location and the economic development practices and policies within a community. More specifically, spatial relationships among communities on the Canadian/US border will be examined to determine if similar approaches to local economic development can be identified based on spatial patterns regardless of nation of origin. Recent research on cross-border cooperation among European countries and between the US and Canada suggests that boundaries are becoming less important and are being replaced by regional variations (Marks, 1993; Hooghe, 1996, among others). Using Geographic Information System (GIS) analysis along with traditional statistical analyses, the following questions are examined:

* Are spatial patterns evident in the types of economic development policies employed by cities along the Canadian/US border?

* Do proximate communities employ similar "packages" of development incentives?

* Is there more variation within or between nations in the types of policies employed or do policy approaches follow regional rather than national lines?

SPATIAL LOCATION AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Geographic Location

To date, there has been a general lack of attention to geographic or spatial patterns in the adoption and use of local economic development policies. Work on the diffusion of local policy innovation from the 1970's provided insights into the spatial dispersion of local policy. However, these findings have generally not been included in more recent work on economic development policy (an exception would be Krmenec, 1989). Local decisions to adopt particular new policies were found to be affected by neighborhood (emulation of policy in cities close by), hierarchy (diffusion from larger/older to smaller/newer cities), and central propagator (encouragement by state or federal policy) effects (see McVoy, 1940; Crain, 1966; Agnew et. …

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