Small Town Economic Development

Reports on Growth Strategies in Practice


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About the Book

We tend to associate small town economic development with the decline of the rural United States—empty houses, shuttered shops and rusting factories. A common diagnosis of sluggish small town recovery is their lack of lifestyle amenities that attract new residents and businesses. Yet many small towns have shown progress and potential in recent years. This collection of recent articles by experts presents stories of small-town America’s struggle and describes innovations and practices behind successful revivals.

About the Author(s)

Joaquin Jay Gonzalez III, Ph.D., is vice provost for global affairs as well as chair and Mayor George Christopher Professor of Public Administration at Golden Gate University. He founded GGU’s law enforcement and security program and is a San Francisco advocate for the safety and security of Filipino American kids and their families.

Roger L. Kemp, Ph.D., ICMA-CM, has been a city manager on both the East and West coasts for more than 25 years. He is presently Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Public Administration at Golden Gate University and a Fellow of The Academy of Political Science.

Jonathan Rosenthal, MPA, AICP, has more than 35 years of experience in economic development serving Syracuse and Onondaga counties as well as the cities of Des Moines, New Haven, and Bristol. He has built and filled business parks and assisted hundreds of businesses that have created thousands of good jobs, and invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the communities that he has worked in.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Joaquin Jay Gonzalez III, Roger L. Kemp and Jonathan Rosenthal

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 304
Bibliographic Info: notes, appendices, glossary, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2017
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7678-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2852-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Preface 1
Part I. The State of Small Towns
1. Towns in the Age of Megacities (Tommy Engram) 7
2. Where Is America Growing?  (Smart Growth America) 9
3. City Versus Suburban Growth in Small Metro Areas (Smart Growth America) 11
4. Pushing for Inclusive Economic Development (Emily Robbins) 15
5. The State of America’s Cities (Trevor Langan) 17
6. Strengthening the Rural Economy (Council of Economic Advisers) 19
7. Growing New Businesses in Rural America (Council of Economic Advisers) 25
8. The Challenges of a Small Town (Erin Mullenix) 33
9. Economic Development in Hard Times (International City/County Management Association) 35
Part II. Bright Ideas, Good Practices
A. Leadership and Strategy
10. The Role of Local Elected Officials in Economic Development   (Christiana McFarland and Katie Seeger) 37
11. All Economies Are Local (Christopher Robbins) 46
12. Defining Small Towns for Economic Development (Jonathan Rosenthal) 48
13. The Secrets of Successful Communities (Edward T. McMahon) 53
14. Big Ideas for Small Cities (National League of Cities) 59
15. Small Towns, Big Ideas (Will Lambe) 65
16. Strategies for Small Town Success (Joe A. Sumners) 72
17. Using Networks for Economic Development (Camille Cates Barnett and Oscar Rodríguez) 75
18. State-of-the-Art Measures in Economic Development  (David Ammons and Jonathan Morgan) 80
B. Branding and Marketing
19. Jump-Starting a ­Small-Community Economy  (Randall Wheeler) 83
20. Ten Tips for Branding Your Small Town (Thomas Ford) 87
21. Are Municipal Branding Campaigns Worth the Price?  (Ryan Holeywell) 91
22. How to Market a Small Town  (Becky McCray) 96
23. Seven Elements of Effective Community Marketing  (John Gann, Jr.) 99
C. Capital and Financing
24. Creation, Implementation and Evaluation of Tax Increment Financing Government Finance Officers Association 103
25. Community Improvement District to the Rescue (Ty Lasher, Michelle Meyer and Alison McKenney Brown) 107
26. State Governments: The Latest Venture Capitalists  (Russell Nichols) 110
27. Thinking Differently About Development  (Joe Minicozzi )115
D. Infrastructure
28. The Search for ­Infrastructure-Driven Transformation  (William Fulton) 118
29. Revving Up the Rails  (Josh Goodman) 120
30. Bridge to Somewhere  (Adam Regn Arvidson) 125
31. Romancing the Factory  (William Fulton) 128
32. Historic Train Depot Breathing New Life into One Small Town (Jill FitzSimmons) 130
E. Brownfields
33. Creating a Land Boom  (William Fulton) 134
34. A Brownfields Bonanza  (Howard Lalli) 136
35. Attracting Development to Brownfields Sites  (Catherine Finneran) 140
F. Downtown
36. Chelsea’s Path to a Vibrant Downtown  (Brett Common) 144
37. Top Ten Myths of Downtown Planning  (Philip Walker) 150
38. Revitalizing America’s Downtowns During This Century  (Roger L. Kemp) 154
39. Debunking Time: 12 Myths About Downtown  (Mark Brodeur) 157
G. Main Street
40. Main Street Facelift  (Tracy Brown and Scott Lazenby 161
41. Main Street Pursuits  (Patricia Mitchell and Charles Abernathy) 165
H. Retail
42. City-Developer Relations  (Christiana McFarland) 168
43. The Retail Chase  (Christopher Swope) 174
I. Tourism
44. Tourism Impacts Economic Development  (David Robinson) 180
45. Tourism in the City of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee  (Madlyn M. Bonimy) 182
46. Want Tourists in Your Town? Brand It, and They Will Come (J. Michael Lillich) 184
J. Arts
47. Work of Arts  (Zach Patton) 186
48. Assets Building in a Small Appalachian City  (William Hatcher and Matt Oyer) 191
K. Technology
49. Can Green Technology Propel Economic Development? (Chad Vander Veen) 194
50. Metro ­Wi-Fi Networks  (Bert Williams) 199
51. Mississippi Hotspot  (Justin Fritscher) 203
L. Food
52. The Supermarket as a Neighborhood Building Block  (Mark Hinshaw and Brian Vanneman) 206
53. Fresh Fight  (Zach Patton) 211
M. Creative Space
54. Creating Jobs Over Coffee  (Kristen Carney) 214
55. Reimagining a Mill Community  (David E. Versel) 219
N. Transportation
56. Bike Share Isn’t Just for Big Cities  (Daniel C. Vock) 222
57. Some in D.C. Think Livability Is Not a Small Town Value  (Steve Davis) 224
O. Multigenerational
58. Can Millennials Revive the American City?  (Minch Lewis) 228
59. Young Professionals Return Home, and Stay  (William Fulton) 231
60. Building Intergenerational Communities  (Sue Kelley and Chris Swartz) 233
61. Retirees: A New Economic Development Strategy  (Christen Smith) 237
Part III. Caveats and the Future
62. Do Cities Really Want Economic Development?  (Aaron M. Renn) 239
63. The Panacea Patrol  (William Fulton) 241
64. Bordeaux vs. Budweiser  (Rob Gurwitt) 243
65. As Suburbs Shift, Funding Fights Loom  (Jenni Bergal) 248
66. When Bad Things Happen to Good Plans  (Joseph McElroy) 252
67. Examining Economic Development Dollars  (Mike Maciag) 256
68. The Myths of Municipal Mergers  (Aaron M. Renn) 259
69. Economic Development in the 1099 Economy  (William Fulton) 261
I. Top 50 Best Small Towns, 2016  (Livability) 263
II. Community-Based Economic Development Approach  (International City/County Management Association) 272
III. Communicating Capital Improvement Strategies (Government Finance Officers Association) 279
IV. Glossary of Economic Development Practices  (Joaquin Jay Gonzalez III and Jonathan Rosenthal 282
About the Editors and Contributors 286
Index 289

Book Reviews & Awards

• “A valuable resource offering proven innovative ideas and solutions. Small town leaders…add this comprehensive work to your toolbox.”—Debbie McKillop, Martinez City Council, California

• “A useful and practical compendium of examples and lessons lessons learned from across the country on successfully implementing economic development in America’s small towns.”—Carl Amento, Executive Director, South Central Regional Council of Governments, former Mayor of the Town of Hamden, Connecticut

• “Gonzalez, Kemp, and Rosenthal present insightful and pragmatic approaches for small town officials and citizens seeking to enhance economic development in their communities.”—Randall Margo, PhD, former Assistant County Administrator for Yuba, California

• “Gonzalez, Kemp, and Rosenthal offer a clear and concise reference tool that experienced professionals and emerging leaders may use to guide their economic development programming.”—Michael Moore, President and CEO, Bridgeport Downtown Special Services District