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Regional Economies

Chicago TREND: One-Page Profile and Background Presentation (May 2015): Chicago TREND (Transforming Retail Economics of Neighborhood Development) combines innovative predictive analytics, deal brokering and financial products to support "retail on the leading edge" of emerging neighborhood markets. The new initiative - including partnerships with ICSC, Nielsen, Econsult Solutions and leading retailers and developers - aims to enable retailers, developers, investors and neighborhoods to better target particular types of retail to specific changing neighborhoods offering retail opportunity that will help drive the neighborhood change. The initiative is led by Lyneir Richardson. To discuss potential retail development and partnership opportunities, please contact him at lyneir@rw-ventures.com.

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Chicagoland FOOD - Seizing the Opportunity to Grow Chicagoland’s Food Industry (May 2015): This report, written in partnership with the Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center (IMEC), highlights the opportunities for driving inclusive regional growth through the collaborative development of the Chicagoland region’s food manufacturing and packaging cluster. The report is a product of the MacArthur Foundation-supported Linking Neighborhoods to Clusters project, connecting neighborhood level economic development goals to regional, cluster-based development strategies.

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Strategic Development Scenarios for the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s University Avenue Site (July 2014): This presentation, delivered to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s leadership team, provides a set of strategic redevelopment scenarios for a 31-acre site the foundation owns in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Atlanta, GA. In the context of growing opportunities in the next-economy for “economic place making” which aligns neighborhood and regional development, a cross-disciplinary team – including partners Mass Economics, Stoss Landscape Urbanism, TSW and Noell Consulting Group – undertook extensive regional and local market analysis and stakeholder engagement to identify a range of market-feasible development alternatives for the site that would maximize opportunities for community residents and businesses. The team explored development opportunities ranging from a food innovation park to a “blue-collar innovation district.” This presentation summarizes the team’s approach to the project, its market and site findings, recommended strategic development scenarios and a proposed strategy for taking the site to market for development. The team’s work is described in more detail in a set of non-public deliverables prepared for the foundation.

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Linking Regional Economic Clusters with Targeted Urban Places in Indianapolis (August 2014): This set of documents reflects recommendations for leveraging urban industrial corridors in Indianapolis, Indiana in ways that support high-growth-potential regional clusters. The project was undertaken by RW Ventures in partnership with Mass Economics, Bookman Associates, Capraro Consulting and Jones Lang LaSalle on behalf of Indianapolis LISC. The presentation describes the urban opportunities among targeted economic clusters, ultimately recommending a focus on (a) Food Manufacturing and Distribution and (b) Local Business-to-Business (B2B) Services. The report then provides a more in-depth description of those clusters and articulates a location profile for each that captures the location preferences, site characteristics and building requirements of firms in those clusters. Finally, the report offers recommendations for promoting growth of the Food Manufacturing and Distribution and Local B2B clusters in existing industrial areas in Indianapolis and proposed methodologies for the next round of cluster development and industrial land analysis.

Partnering for Prosperity: An Economic Growth Action Agenda for Cook County (April 2013): Prepared for Cook County by its Council of Economic Advisors, Metropolis Strategies and RW Ventures, this Action Agenda begins by addressing Cook County’s role in the regional economy, in light of dramatic changes taking place in the global economy. It then outlines a framework for understanding the County’s opportunities to influence economic growth, identifying the intersection of regional economic growth opportunities, the County’s unique assets and challenges, and Cook County government’s capacities. Applying this framework, the Action Agenda analyzes Cook County’s economic assets, challenges and opportunities in the context of the region. Based on this analysis, the Action Agenda recommends nine economic growth strategies for Cook County to adopt in order to promote regional economic growth, and outlines next steps for implementing the strategies.

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Regions Charting New Directions: Metropolitan Business Planning (June 2012, January 2013): These three presentations outline the key drivers of economic growth in the next economy, articulate the concept of “metro-economics” and describe the approach of Metropolitan Business Planning. The first two presentations apply these frameworks in the context of the South Bend and metropolitan Milwaukee areas, while the third presentation, delivered at the Winter meeting of the Mayor’s Innovation Project, considers the questions that regions should answer in order to understand their unique opportunities for economic growth. The South Bend presentation was delivered at the first ever South Bend Economic Summit, co-hosted by the Mayor of South Bend, and the heads of the Chamber of Commerce of St. Joseph County and the Corporate Partnership for Economic Growth. The Milwaukee presentation was delivered at a meeting of the Milwaukee 7 Regional Economic Development Advisory Council.

A Plan for Economic Growth and Jobs (February 2012): The plan was developed at the request of Mayor Rahm Emanuel by World Business Chicago and a team of consultants, including RW Ventures. It begins with an overview of the necessary foundations for growth in the “next economy,” followed by an assessment of the region’s economy along five market levers that drive regional growth and a set of ten transformative growth strategies informed by this rigorous analysis. The report ends by considering potential impacts of and risks to implementation and outlining the next steps in implementation.

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Implementing Regionalism: Connecting Emerging Theory and Practice to Inform Economic Development (November 2011): 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.

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City Vitals: How Do We Measure the Success of Cities?: This short slide deck was created in response to a presentation by Joe Cortright at CEOs for Cities Fall 2011 Meeting concerning metrics of city vitality. Highlighting the importance of determining the right information resources for the particular purpose, the presentation compares the City Vitals framework with the Metropolitan Business Planning framework, and recommends factors of the regional economy for practitioners to think about.

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Driving Regional Economic Growth: Opportunities for Cook County (August 2011): This presentation, delivered by Bob Weissbourd to the Economic Development Foundations Working Group of Cook County, provides an overview of how the different pieces of the economy fit together and how to understand them in the regional context. The bulk of the presentation specifically examines the Chicago region’s economy and suggests ways in which Cook County might support economic development through actions in its own businesses, in its economic development programming and through new initiatives and partnerships.

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Municipal Financing: Current Challenges and Opportunities (March 2011): Bob Weissbourd delivered this presentation at the London School of Economics’ City Reformers Group Workshop, in a session on public financing. The presentation outlines the troubles facing city governments – from the way they are governing to their budget deficits. It also sets forth a vision for what city governance should look like, and presents ideas for how cities can align financing strategies with future growth.

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Metropolitan Business Planning (March-April, 2011): The Metropolitan Business Planning initiative, co-developed by The Brookings Institution and RW Ventures, continues to generate great interest at the local, state and federal levels. Bob Weissbourd has been presenting the concept and framework to audiences of public policy decision makers, as well as non-profit, civic and private-sector leaders both in the U.S. and abroad. Among the more recent presentations are the two below, prepared for the London School of Economics’ City Reformers Group Workshop and the Brookings-hosted event, “Metropolitan Business Plans: A New Approach to Economic Growth.”

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GO TO 2040: Strengthening the Regional Economy (January 2011): This report explores how the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning’s GO TO 2040 plan will influence the performance of the regional economy. The report offers a framework for understanding regional economies and evaluates the impact that implementation of CMAP’s GO TO 2040 plan will likely have through five key leverage points: innovation, business clusters, spatial efficiency, human capital and effective governance.

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“Metro-Economics”: Towards a “Unified Field Theory” (January 2011): This speech and accompanying PowerPoint were delivered by Bob Weissbourd as part of the Portland Plan – Inspiring Community Series. The speech begins to tie together the various pieces of economic development – from neighborhoods to regions, equity to prosperity, human capital to clusters – into a comprehensive, integrated, practical approach to metropolitan economic growth.

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Metropolitan Business Plans: A New Approach to Economic Growth (Spring 2011): Prepared in partnership with the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program for “Global Metro Summit 2010: Delivering the Next Economy,” this policy brief formally introduces the concept of metropolitan business planning, and describes three pilot projects, in Northeast Ohio, Minneapolis-Saint Paul and the Puget Sound (Seattle) region.  Offering a new “metro-economic” policy to complement national macroeconomic policy with a new “metro-economic” policy, the paper lays out the characteristics and drivers of regional economies, how they lend themselves to the discipline of business planning, and the implications for regional economic growth policy as well as a “new federalism.”

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The City that NetWorks: Transforming Society and Economy through Digital Excellence (Summer 2007): This report, prepared for the Mayor’s Advisory Council on Bridging the Digital Divide, outlines a comprehensive plan for achieving universal digital excellence, as vital to the future of a global city.

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Strengthening Communities for Regional Prosperity (Summer 2006): This article, published by Living Cities as part of the Living Cities Policy Series, addresses the importance of neighborhoods to their cities and regions. In particular, the piece seeks to provide a better understanding of how the economic destiny of a region is interconnected with the destiny of its neighborhoods, highlighting how successful economic development strategies need to integrate neighborhood and regional interventions.

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Seeing the Forest and the Trees (Spring 2005): This presentation, prepared for CEOs for Cities’ annual meeting, explores some of the key findings that have emerged from the literature on the role of cities in the national economy and on the drivers of urban economic growth. Based on these findings, we extrapolate seven broad principles for urban policy and suggest several related strategies for city and regional economic development.

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The Kansas City Region: Economic Opportunity in the Heartland (Spring 2005): The Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program hired RW Ventures and Alen Amirkhanien to complete a preliminary assessment of Kansas City’s economy in the context of the Heartland region.  This study scans key aspects of Kansas City’s economy to identify growth opportunities worth examining further.  The research focused in particular on four strategic areas that affect economic performance: industry composition, functional and occupational concentrations, knowledge and innovation, and regional connectivity.

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Grads and Fads (Fall 2004):  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. 

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The Changing Dynamics of Urban America (Fall 2003):  This major study, conducted with Christopher Berry for CEOs for Cities, examines the changing drivers of economic success in American cities and metropolitan areas, and how these affect decision-making for leaders across all sectors.  The report illustrates our findings on what is happening in and to cities, what made some cities thrive in the 1990s, and what factors appear to make the critical difference for the future. 

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Cities and Economic Prosperity (Spring 2001): This study, completed for CEOs for Cities, features a data scan of economic indicators and activity in cities. The study finds that the assets of cities are enormous, varied, and concentrated in particularly critical sectors. It also finds that cities feature economies disproportionately concentrated in "new" activity, and that cities are both hubs and drivers of regional economies that transcend political boundaries. 

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