You will submit an Economic Development Analysis and Proposal Plan, consisting of 15-20 pages, not including the title page, abstract, or reference page. In order to complete this assignment, you must choose a specific locale that you want to use for your case study. You may wish to select the community in which you currently live or a hometown as the focus of this report. A case must be a “bounded system” with definable parameters (Stake, 1995). Thus, you must choose a locale that you can define and limit. For example, you should not use New York City. Its size is far beyond what you will be able to accomplish in this course. Likewise, you would not want to choose Huston, Idaho, as it is far too small to have a need for a cohesive economic development plan. In this assignment, you will target the specific situations found in an American city, town, or county. This assignment will require that you address the following six specific areas:
When choosing your locale, make sure that you will be able to find demographic and economic information. You will want to choose an area with which you are familiar or an area where there is obvious need. Attempt to pick a city or a town that is not extremely large (i.e., New York City, however, Staten Island could be a viable project). Choosing wisely will make your research more focused so that you can complete the research by the time the course has finished.
You must detail the specific economic situation facing this location. For example, if you were to choose Flint, MI, you would have to discuss the impact of the auto industry moving away from the city and the subsequent economic and social conditions of the city. How has the economic shift impacted the city and how has the city responded in the last 30 years? Additionally, what initiatives has the city implemented to revive the economic, social, and cultural aspects of the city? You will need to know the city and what is going on in the city to be able to create an action plan, but before you can make suggestions, you must intimately understand the pressures facing the constituents. Part of this section will need to detail what kinds industry the city emphasizes (industrial, educational, technology).
If you are unfamiliar with a SWOT analysis, you will need to conduct a Google search to find examples. In short, a SWOT is an analysis of an entity’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. It may be helpful when looking for your S, W, O, and T to call/email those living in the area you are researching. They can provide a firsthand perspective that your other research may not provide. This portion of the assignment will take preplanning. People usually are willing to share strengths or weaknesses, but they may not be able to share both based on their personal biases, experiences, and situation in life. Make sure your SWOT is balanced, and include all information that you have received.
Legal and Public Policy Issues
Based on the SWOT analysis and other research, what legal and/or public policy issues are facing the city? For example, Minneapolis, MN is facing challenges from the Minnesota Vikings. The team wants to build a new stadium, but there are not enough funds to build the kind of stadium the team wants. This is a public policy issue because the lawmakers do not want to increase taxes to pay for leisure, but the team is threatening to move to another state if the policymakers do not acquiesce. With that said, the addition of a new stadium could add economic benefits to the city by way of additional revenue for sporting events and concerts as well as incidental revenue from sponsorships. Explore your locale and find out if there are lawsuits facing leaders in the community or public policy hot-button issues that will impact future economic development. Please keep in mind that the situation your locale may be facing may be more practical than the example listed.
How is the government structured in this locale? For instance, Lynchburg, VA appoints its mayor. Thus, the mayor is little more than a figure head of the “hired” government. What is unique or specific about the government in your locale? It may not need to be unique, but it characterizes the atmosphere of the community. Does the government lean left or right, or is it openly pursuing a left or right agenda? Evaluate whether the legislators govern based on their ideological bias or from the center, rather than focusing on the best interests of the city. Explain the structure of the government. Include an organizational chart of the government. Detail the function and role of each individual in the government and summarize how this atmosphere impacts the direction of economic development in the past and present. Also, discuss the role private business plays in governing. Does the local governing body (city council, mayor’s office, county commission, etc.) work closely with businesses and/or the Chamber of Commerce, or is the relationship strained? Are the economic policies driven by government, business, or both? Are there any public/private partnerships in your community? If so, fully evaluate the usefulness of such an arrangement.
This is the “meat” of your assignment. All that you have been writing up until this point has been leading you to this section of the assignment. The action plan is your recommendation for what the community can and should do to increase the economic development. You are required to think outside of the box. Your plans must be sustainable and pragmatic, and they must address the needs of the community where the community is deficient. Now that you know the weaknesses, address them, but make sure that in addressing the weaknesses you are not undermining the strengths. Seize the opportunities and remove the threats. You must think strategically and systematically. You will need to fully justify and substantiate your action plan and you will need to show how this action plan could and will work within the specific structure of this locale. This is why you have detailed the governmental atmosphere and public policy issues. As in our case with Minneapolis, having a professional football team leave the community will hurt the community economically. This is a threat, but unilaterally raising taxes cannot be your answer because the governmental atmosphere is fiscally conservative; however, the team wants a new stadium that will cost more than a billion dollars. What actions could you take to create new capital that will keep this team in your city, but also provide new money for the building of a stadium? In this section of the paper, you get to be the “decision maker,” but it must fit within the confines of your chosen community, and your proposal must be fully justified in all points. Ultimately, you are making your case as to why your proposal would be good for your community and lead to economic growth and development.
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