Many cities in America's heartland have been left behind by globalization. Some of America's most famous cities are shadows of their pasts. Place-based economic development efforts often benefit the few rather than the many.
Without clear government mechanisms to balance economic development, those left behind by the process of globalization have turned to xenophobia, trade protectionism and other efforts unlikely to improve their material conditions. This phenomenon is not restricted to the United States, but is also apparent in Europe and, to a lesser extent, in other emerging economies such as Brazil.
Meanwhile, mainstream economic development efforts that have sought to redress this sort of regional inequality have often become cynical exercises in the distribution of political patronage. The spectacle of Amazon, one of the world’s wealthiest companies, pitting cash-strapped municipal and state governments against one another in order to gain unneeded tax breaks, has created a political backlash. This presents an opportunity to reconsider mainstream economic development practice.
We are currently developing programs with Pittsburghers for Public Transit and groups in Philadelphia.
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