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Urban Economic Development

Insights and strategies for leaders in urban economic development

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What do baby boomers, families, young professionals and new U.S. immigrants all have in common? They’re driving the reurbanization of America. After decades of flight, cities are becoming the go-to choice of living. Access to amenities—including parks, transportation, restaurants, cultural facilities and sporting events—are making cities the preferred alternative to suburban living.

But as the demographic shift continues, cities must find ways to accommodate growth. Economic development initiatives are at the forefront of cities’ agendas: how can we promote equitable urban revitalization and foster job growth and economic opportunity for all residents—new and old alike?

There is no one answer. Indeed, solutions will flow from the public, private and nonprofit sectors—and will often need the collaboration of all three. In some cases, cities will lead the way. In others, the private sector or anchor institutions such as hospitals and universities might be the vanguard of action. What’s clear is that we need to identify what’s working in cities across the nation in order to learn from others and implement variations in our own cities.

This is why, after many discussions with our national partners and with attendees of the Inner City Economic Summit, ICIC launched its What Works for Cities campaign.

At the heart of What Works is the compilation of What Works Case Studies, or the strategies being employed to address some of the nation’s greatest economic and business development challenges in cities.

While many think tanks, policy organizations and experts provide valuable insight to the topic, our experience is that there is no go-to source that provides an aggregation of thought leadership, best practices and innovative programs to create jobs in the communities that need them most. We hope to fill this gap with the What Works: Practices in Action digital platform. This platform will allow stakeholders to engage and discuss solutions—to ask each other questions, share “what’s worked” in their own cities and examine how to overcome challenges that might arise.

In addition to the Practices in Action inventory, the What Works campaign will include expert training seminars that provide participants with a deeper understanding of how selected best practices have succeed in revitalizing communities, and how these practices may be applied in their own cities. Where there is interest, ICIC will work with our partners to hold roundtables and convenings to dive even deeper into these issues.

Each fall, the What Works campaign will culminate with the Inner City Economic Summit to highlight the learnings from the year prior. The conference will gather a select group of experienced corporate, civic and nonprofit leaders committed to invigorating the urban core. Together, participants will: develop and share best practices and critical tools; discuss and shape investment and policy ideas; force public and private partnerships to better leverage resources; and inform ongoing and future ICIC research topics. 

We hope that you will engage with ICIC as we move forward with this endeavor. Share with us What's Working in your city and we’ll highlight you in Solutions: Spotlight. Tell us if you have questions about some of our What Works examples and we’ll see about getting an expert to answer you. Provide us with feedback and inform us if you know of other good examples. Together, we will find the best city-led, business-led, and nonprofit-led solutions working in our cities.

Practices in Action

Read case studies from our new Practices in Action database: the strategies that city, civic and business leaders are deploying to address some of the nation’s greatest economic and businesses development challenges in cities. 

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  • Year after year, ICIC serves as a beacon, encouraging each of us to help create an environment of opportunity and creativity in our inner cities.

Robert E. Gallery,

Massachsetts President

Bank of America

for our monthly Inner City Insights.

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