Economic Development Programs for Cities, Counties, and Towns

By John M. Levy | Go to book overview

7
Reasonable Expectations

Having sketched the economic development scene, some words on what reasonable expectations a community and new economic development agency might hold seem appropriate. A community cannot make a reasoned decision on whether an economic development program is worthwhile if it has no notion of what the results may be. Nor can it judge an economic development agency and its personnel if it doesn't have some sense of what to expect. Educating the body politic about reasonable expectations is thus time well spent for the economic developer.

The first thing for the community to realize is how competitive the local economic development scene is. As noted in connection with footloose manufacturing, the number of firms of significant size that will relocate in one year is a tiny fraction of the number of local economic development programs in the United States. It is also important to realize that many of the determinants of economic growth are beyond community control. Very often the goal is seen as bringing in new industry. The economic developer is the fisherman who will bring home a huge fish upon which all can dine happily. But the truth, as noted before, is that most agencies achieve most of their success from nurturing the economic base they have. The economic development agency, if events go reasonably well, is much more likely to have small successes -- expansions facilitated and departures forestalled -- than it is to have spectacular achievements like a new Fortune 500 corporate headquarters.

When there is a success, whether large or small, and whether homegrown or of outside origin, it may be difficult to tell exactly how much credit should go to the community's economic development agency. When a firm moves in or expands in place, the development agency, the local commer-

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Economic Development Programs for Cities, Counties, and Towns
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Tables ix
  • Preface xi
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - The Political Context of Economic Development 11
  • 3 - Organization and Personnel 19
  • 4 - Recent Economic Changes 25
  • 5 - The Role of the States 39
  • 6 - What Does and Does Not Work 47
  • Notes 61
  • 7 - Reasonable Expectations 63
  • 8 - Public Relations, Advertising, and Marketing 67
  • 9 - Assessing Economic Development Potential 83
  • 10 - Development Planning 103
  • 11 - Development Financing 117
  • 12 - Labor Market and Fiscal Impacts 131
  • 13 - Local Economic Development in the National Picture 151
  • Appendix. Economics for the Economic Developer 165
  • Bibliography 169
  • Index 171
  • About the Author 175
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