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Urban Economic Development

Insights and strategies for leaders in urban economic development

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Insights and strategies for mayors, economic developers and policy makers

Urban economic development has often been a field of perpetual frustration because little was known about the dynamics of inner city economies or the relative advantages of different inner city areas.

ICIC equips policy makers with the unassailable “ground truth” about inner city economies to help them shape better-informed decisions, engage the private sector and rally support. ICIC also identifies critical factors for economic growth in urban environments and informs public officials about how they can use their high-potential business drivers to produce the most significant economic effects.

VIEW A CASE HISTORY

Case History

NYC Department of Small Business Services

Supporting an Innovation Economy

Background:

New York City is the largest U.S. urban economy, and a global leader in many industries, yet ranks 33rd among U.S. cities for the number of science and engineering professionals relative to its workforce.  As worldwide demand for tech talent outpaces supply, New York’s ability to attract, train, and maintain a skilled workforce is crucial to its long-term economic success.

The borough of Brooklyn has embraced citywide efforts to build a vibrant tech-oriented community. Brooklyn’s mix of a diverse labor force, educational institutions, and easy access to Manhattan has yielded an emerging business district known as the Brooklyn Tech Triangle, where many rapidly growing high-tech firms and startups have established operations.

The Challenge:

Through it’s existing programs, the New York City Workforce Development Corporation and Department of Small Business Services have successfully paired promising high-school and college-aged interns with local businesses seeking extra help. However, these programs did not attract the participation of high-tech employers. The city decided to create a new, mutually beneficial program to develop a high-tech workforce, and tend to the unique needs of a growing and constantly changing industry.

ICIC’s Role:

ICIC conducted a benchmarking study, researching and interviewing representatives from peer programs nationwide. Having gathered robust information on program design and implementation, ICIC synthesized the information into a series of recommendations for New York City’s new program, including best practices in recruiting, matching, and effectively supporting interns and employers.

Results:

The City of New York Workforce Development Corporation and Department of Small Business Services successfully launched their inaugural Brooklyn Tech Triangle Internship Program in the summer of 2013. Using many of the recommendations set forth by ICIC, the program successfully matched 28 interns to meet the high-tech needs of local businesses and start-ups. 

Case History

Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital

Maximizing Community Investment

Background:

Los Angeles County set aside nearly $400 million to invest in the construction of a new inpatient hospital and the expansion of an existing ambulatory care center in a historically underserved neighborhood of Los Angeles. The redevelopment of the MLK Medical Campus will provide high quality care to the community, and catalyze other important projects in the area.  Because of the significant investment, necessary planning efforts, and broad range of important stakeholders, the County convened an advisory group to guide and support the project.

The Challenge:

The County sought guidance to maximize the impact of its investment in the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital. Particularly, Los Angeles wanted to ensure that its investment would drive economic development, job creation, growth of local businesses in the region, in addition to high-quality health care.

ICIC’s Role:

After collecting and analyzing data and conducting nearly one hundred field interviews, ICIC and Next Street provided MLK Hospital, the LA County Supervisor’s Office, real estate developers and community stakeholders with a list of recommendations in four categories: (1) increasing primary care delivery; (2) redeveloping more than a dozen parcels of nearby real estate; (3) designing workforce development programs for high-demand health care careers; and (4) aligning supply chains to support the growth of local businesses.

Results:

The ICIC/Next Street team aligned all stakeholders and garnered support for the recommended strategies and next steps. The team presented a12-month implementation plan to address all four categories, and worked with LA County officials to identify local champions and partners to carry the plan into the future.

Case History

St. Paul Port Authority

Making the Case for Industrial in St. Paul

Background

In contrast to many of its Midwestern peers, the 13-county Minneapolis-Saint Paul region experienced significant economic growth in recent years. However, once this growth began to slow, the Twin Cities began to search for new opportunities to grow jobs in the region, especially in economically distressed areas.

St. Paul, in particular, boasts a rich industrial history and is well positioned to revitalize its industrial legacy. In keeping with the nationwide resurgence of manufacturing and production activity, St. Paul Port Authority saw an opportunity to realign its strategies to ensure future success and continued growth in the region.

The Challenge

Recognizing the potential of the City’s industrial future, the St. Paul Port Authority sought to fully understand the context, trends, and opportunities of the manufacturing sector. This knowledge would inform a new strategy for the region, with a special focus on its Business Centers’ ability to attract new industrial tenants and bolster the success of the existing firms located on its land. 

ICIC’s Role

ICIC partnered with Interface Studio and Laura Wolf Powers of the University of Pennsylvania School of Design to conduct a comprehensive study of the Saint Paul industrial economy. The research included a combination of data analysis, site visits, and interviews with key stakeholders.  The data revealed that St. Paul was a city rich with industrial assets, opportunities and resources that it did not yet fully leverage. Throughout the research process, the team also uncovered approaches used in peer cities that the Port Authority could adopt to work with non-industrial Business Center neighbors and other local companies. Ultimately, the team constructed a set of recommendations focused on land use, leadership, cluster strategies, and workforce to help St. Paul enhance its economic efforts.

The Results

The St. Paul Port Authority has leveraged the study to align stakeholders to implement the team’s recommendations and increase industry in St Paul. The key findings from the team’s research – that each industrial job created yields additional 1.6 jobs in other industries, and that industrial activities generate much more revenue for the city than they consume in services – have proven especially crucial in gathering support for a focused plan to build St. Paul’s industrial economy.

Case History

Cleveland Clinic

Building a healthy local economy

Background:

With more than 35% of residents living below the poverty line, Cleveland is one of the most economically distressed cities in the U.S. The Cleveland Clinic’s main campus and other key locations are located in Cleveland’s inner city.  The Clinic is the largest employer in Cleveland and the second largest in Northeast Ohio, with more than 40,000 employees and over $5 billion in revenues.

The Challenge:

The Cleveland Clinic is a global institution; however, a majority of the Clinic's operations are based in Cleveland.  Despite a challenging business environment, the Clinic relies on the local community for workforce recruitment, a positive patient and visitor experience and access to services. The Clinic wanted to leverage its resources and scale to improve the health and economic vitality of the local community but did not have a focused strategy to do so.

ICIC’s Role:

ICIC developed a strategic framework outlining the seven areas (such as purchasing, hiring, wellness campaigns and technology incubation) where the Clinic could have a meaningful impact on local job creation and business growth, while ensuring a return on its investment. ICIC also identified, in each of these areas of activity, which national best practices the Clinic could adopt.

Results:

The Clinic’s management utilized the framework to categorize and assess its activities to focus on areas that will have the greatest shared value or positive impact on both its performance and the local Cleveland community.

Case History

U.S. Economic Development Administration

Designing a Food Cluster Strategy

Background

Over the past decade, interest in obtaining fresh, healthy food locally has flourished. The food industry is booming, comprising 11% of the US economy and employing 17 million people. This growth holds the potential to bring high-quality food, better health, and new employment opportunities to cities, including their most distressed neighborhoods. 

The Challenge

Economic development organizations in Boston and Detroit were interested in understanding the potential for growing a food cluster in their cities and the potential for the cluster to catalyze growth, new jobs and stronger businesses in urban areas.

ICIC’s role

In collaboration with Next Street and Karp Resources, and funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, the Boston Foundation, EOS Foundation, Kellogg Foundation, and Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan, ICIC conducted an in-depth analysis of food clusters in Boston and Detroit. The study aimed to discover and outline the economic levers at play in two very different cities’ food-related industries, from agriculture to distribution and retail. The analysis led to a series of considerations for any city official or economic development professional seeking to build a thriving food cluster.

Results:

The final report was widely disseminated to economic development professionals in Boston and Detroit. Boston has leveraged the study to support and implement new food policies and programs. Detroit has also incorporated the study’s recommended strategies into its comprehensive economic development plan, Detroit Future City, with plans to to expand its support of food-related businesses and jobs. These efforts serve as a model for other cities as they implement comprehensive food policies and consider the related economic development goals and strategies.

Case History

West Louisville

Betting on Industries

Background:

The Park Hill corridor of West Louisville has a steady business economy, but not enough activity. And too much local employment is tied to declining industries.

The Challenge:

City officials need to identify industry clusters that can build on the area¹s existing assets and generate long-term job and income growth.

ICIC’s Role:

Working with the city of Louisville, ICIC analyzed local business clusters with the potential to expand regionally and developed a strategy to target national industry clusters that would capitalize on local strengths.

Results:

Louisville economic developers and community leaders developed a coherent long-term strategy to attract and develop business clusters that reinforce each other – rather than chase individual firms. In 2010, Mayor Abramson kicked off the first phase of the Park Hill Industrial Implementation Strategy, which focuses on a cluster-led approach and provides business support services to companies in the Park Hill Corridor.

Getting It Done

ICIC is working with Next Street to activate local business clusters with on-site advice and access to capital. See how.

Creating Local Jobs

Job creation is at the heart of every conversation about economic development. Local business clusters will account for 70% of new jobs in America's inner cities. Here's what every urban mayor and economic developer should know about the impact of local business clusters.

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  • ICIC helped us identify the growth sectors to focus on. They brought to the forefront the importance of industries and companies in inner cities that are hiring immigrants and African Americans at higher wages.

Robert Walsh,

Commissioner

New York City Department of
Small Business Services

for our monthly Inner City Insights.

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