As major transitions in the global economy create new challenges and opportunities, new strategies for driving economic growth are emerging that are often broader in scope, larger-scale, more comprehensive and cross-sectoral. This emerging practice, in turn, calls for new institutional infrastructure and financial tools to support its effective management and implementation. This paper – informed by interviews with, and a convening of, the nation’s leading development authority practitioners and experts – begins to explore the implications of these realities for the design and practice of development authorities to support the next generation of transformative and sustainable economic development.

A national movement is growing to support and affect the trajectories of “middle neighborhoods” – a distinct type of neighborhood described as “on the edge between growth and decline…. where housing is often affordable and where quality of life… is sufficiently good that new home buyers are willing to play the odds and choose these neighborhoods over others in hopes they will improve rather than decline.” On the Edge, a volume of essays on middle neighborhoods edited by Paul Brophy, includes a chapter by Bob Weissbourd, “Understanding Middle Neighborhoods as Vital Parts of Regional Economies.” The chapter describes the changes spurred by the transition to the next economy, and the effects of those changes on how middle neighborhoods relate to their regions and how they play their roles as Communities of Opportunity and Choice. This piece was also published in Community Development Investment Review  (Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco; August, 2016).

Economic development professionals are beginning to think
differently about how they create stronger neighborhoods,
cities, and regional economies. They are applying an asset- and
market-based development framework, which entails “growing
from the inside out.” By applying this framework to the
dynamics of the 21st century economy, they are concentrating
on the synergies between fostering complementary assets in
metropolitan areas: human capital, business, innovation, and
infrastructure. And they understand that a key new dynamic
is the need to align economic growth and inclusion – that is,
sustainable growth requires inclusion and vice versa. This paper
offers a summary of the new thinking underway in the field and
describes some of the emerging practices. For more on inclusive growth, see the Regional Growth Innovation Network (RGIN) website at

This paper was prepared as background for a convening of national experts to explore how the fields of urban planning/design and economic development can better inform each other in practice in the context of the changing global economy and its effects on urban growth form. Developed by RW Ventures, LLC, Urban Planning and Design for the American City and Metropolis Strategies, the paper compares the fields’ goals, frameworks, tools and activities including through applications to particular types of new 21st century urban challenges and opportunities, and raises a set of new issues and suggestions for greater and different collaborations between the fields.

Building on The Changing Dynamics of Urban America, this study examines the relative importance of economic and quality of life factors in attracting and retaining college-educated workers. The project, conducted with Christopher Berry, revealed that the dichotomy of “amenities versus jobs” that seems to dominate the current debate on the issue is misleading: the importance of human capital in today’s economy means that both workers and firms are attracted to metropolitan areas with high concentrations of human capital, deployed in networks of knowledge-intensive industries, functions, and occupations.

Developed for the June 2014 Convening on Inclusive Regional Economic Growth at the Ford Foundation, this framing paper captures findings from interviews of attendees and other leading practitioners to provide a baseline assessment of the emerging practice of Inclusive Regional Economic Growth. The paper describes underlying changes in the next economy, including the inclusive growth paradox and imperative; provides an economic framework for identifying key challenges and opportunities for aligning growth and inclusion; highlights innovations and issues in the emerging practice; and offers observations about how to better coordinate and scale the practice. For more on inclusive growth, see the Regional Growth Innovation Network (RGIN) website at

The “Implementing Regionalism” project, supported by the Surdna Foundation, begins to bridge the gap between the theory and practice of regional economic development through a comprehensive review of existing research and expert input across five key areas of regional economies: deployment of human capital, economic clusters, innovation and entrepreneurship, spatial efficiency and the institutional environment. The paper draws preliminary conclusions that both suggest initial lessons for practice, and identify key areas where further applied research and product development would be most productive in order to further advance the practice of economic development.

The Dynamic Neighborhood Taxonomy (DNT) project provides new analysis on how urban neighborhoods operate, how they change over time, what factors determine their success and how these dynamics vary across different types of neighborhoods. In doing so, the project also created a new generation of analytic tools for businesses, investors, funders, governments and community development practitioners to use in better targeting investments and interventions in urban communities. The findings and tools from this major three-year collaborative project, sponsored by Living Cities, are detailed in an Executive Summary, Report and Appendices.

This paper, published in the Williams Review, presents selected results from the first phase of the Dynamic Neighborhood Taxonomy Project. In particular, the paper investigates two key questions relating to the dynamics of neighborhood change: the extent to which change in housing prices at the neighborhood level is driven by change in the region, and the extent to which neighborhoods tend to converge over time.

This paper and related presentation, prepared for Opportunity Finance Network and CFED, introduce a new framework for bipartisan economic development policies, centered on the idea of “inclusionary growth”.