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.

agroindustria-6825 flickr photo by United Nations Industrial Development Organization shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

This slide deck, presented at the 2014 CEOs for Cities National Meeting, highlights the economic imperative, and offers a framework, approach, analysis and examples for better achieving both prosperity and equity by aligning growth and inclusion. The presentation builds from a convening and ongoing coordination, facilitated by RW Ventures and supported by the Ford Foundation, of leading practitioners building the practice of inclusive regional economic growth around the country. For more on inclusive growth, see the New Growth Innovation Network (NGIN) website at

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 for CEOs for Cities with partner 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 New Growth Innovation Network (NGIN) website at

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, accepting the recommendations of her Council of Economic Advisors, adopted Partnering for Prosperity: An Economic Growth Action Agenda for Cook County, a report developed with assistance from RW Ventures and Metropolis Strategies.  The Action Agenda provides a blueprint for more strategic, targeted and deeper County engagement in regional economic development, recommending nine key strategies based on Cook’s role and capacities in the regional economy.  RW Ventures and Metropolis Strategies will continue to work with Cook County, as it now adapts its programs and engages partners to create transformative initiatives to implement the strategies.

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.

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.

The Milwaukee 7 (M7) released a draft of its Framework for Economic Growth at the November meeting of its Regional Economic Development Advisory Council.  M7 engaged public, private and civic stakeholders from around the seven-county region to create a market-based plan for growing the regional economy.  The plan – developed using the Metropolitan Business Planning framework co-developed by RW Ventures and The Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program – derives nine strategies to “set a new course for regional prosperity.”  M7 and its partners are currently exploring next steps toward implementation.

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.

Bob Weissbourd delivered these remarks as part of the “Connecting to Markets” series sponsored by the Institute for Comprehensive Community Development, the Urban Institute, and the Federal Reserve Banks of Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh and San Francisco. The speech makes observations about the macro- and metro-economic contexts, and then turns to the implications of these trends for the main topics of the day: neighborhoods, housing markets and the foreclosure crisis.