Urban Economic Development
Insights and strategies for leaders in urban economic development
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 the best practices that produce the most significant effects.
VIEW A CASE HISTORY
Building a healthy local economy
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 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 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.
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.
Boston's Backstreet Program
Growing Boston's Industrial Base
Boston has one of the strongest economies in the country today, having transitioned from a manufacturing economy to one that is driven by knowledge-based sectors. Even with the transition, Boston has always had a base of manufacturing and commercial businesses that were thriving and a source for employment.
Despite a growing knowledge-based economy, Boston has a significant number of growing businesses that are manufacturing-based and that need business development support and attention. The city also has land zoned for industrial use that needs tenants.
Partnering with the Boston Consulting Group, ICIC examined Boston's industrial and manufacturing sectors. The analysis revealed more than 4,000 small- and medium-sized commercial services companies still operating in Boston, despite the shift to the knowledge economy. These businesses collectively represented 100,000 jobs or 20% of the city's total jobs.
Results for Boston:
With ICIC's research and recommendations, the City of Boston created its Backstreets Program to support growing industrial and commercial businesses. The City's support ranges from solving space problems to helping businesses understand Boston's permitting and licensing procedures. Today, the program is a national model for other cities.
Advancing Newark's Economic Future
Newark is the economic center for the state of New Jersey. It is home to Port Newark, which, combined with the Elizabeth Marine Terminal, is the largest port on the East Coast and the third largest port in the country. It is also an education center with more than 50,000 students and faculty at its five colleges and universities.
With the assets in place, Newark is "making a slow, slow steady comeback," according to the Washington Post. The Newark Alliance developed Opportunity Network, an economic development initiative, to advance Newark's progress and develop a broad-based strategy to capitalize on the city's market advantages.
The Newark Alliance convened private, public and civic leaders to engage ICIC to conduct a competitive assessment and develop a business development strategy for Newark. ICIC partnered with community and business leaders to create a market-based strategy to further Newark’s revitalization, built around concrete opportunities.
Results for Newark:
Based on ICIC's assessment and recommendations, Opportunity Newark's Executive committee selected four target industry clusters: Transportation, Logistics and Distribution; Health Services; Education and Knowledge Creation; and Entertainment, Arts and Retail. Opportunity Newark developed concrete business development and workforce development action and implementation plans for each cluster. Read more.
For Industrial Advantage
Philadelphia's future economic vitality is contingent upon maintaining a balanced and diversified economy. For Philadelphia, this means continuing to support and grow key industrial activities: production, distribution and repair industries. Together these sectors account for 100,000 jobs citywide and more than $322 million in direct annual tax revenue.
Philadelphia Industrial Development wanted tgain a better understanding of the demand for industrial space in the city and create a strategy to protect and increase the employment and tax revenues generated by industrial businesses in the city.
ICIC partnered with Interface Studio to survey 20% of Philadelphia¹s land – 90% of the industrialized zoned land – and to develop a competitive assessment, growth strategy and implementation framework for Philadelphia¹s industrial clusters. Additionally, ICIC also benchmarked six other cities to identify Philadelphia¹s industrial competitive advantages and areas for improvement.
Results for Philadelphia:
Based on the work of ICIC and Interface Studio, Philadelphia is evaluating and rewriting its industrial zoning categories as part of the first step in the city's updated comprehensive plan. As part of the project, the city is also identifying which industrial lands to intensify and what areas to transfer to alternative uses. Read More
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.
Small footprint; large economic impact
More than 8.8 million U.S. residents work for 460,000 inner city businesses.
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.
New York City Department of
Small Business Services