Urban Planning 538:  Economic Development Planning  Winter 2015


last updated Tuesday, March 31, 2015 10:14 PM

Prof. Scott Campbell (home page)
College of Architecture and Urban Planning
University Of Michigan
office:  2225C A&AB
(734) 763-2077

Students are expected to complete all the required readings before the scheduled class time, actively participate in class discussions and presentations, and complete several written assignments over the semester.  Evaluation of your work will be based on substantive content, analytical rigor, and writing quality.  Be sure to follow appropriate citation guidelines in all your work. Late assignments will result in point reductions.

Format and Style Guidelines (READ CAREFULLY):


Assignment #1: Short Essay (due Feb 3)

Answer ONE of the questions below. Read the instructions above about format and style. Use class readings to support your argument. (Feel free to refer to other sources as well.) Page length: 5-6 pages (not counting the bibliography).

  1. development vs. growth: Planners often assert that they are promoting local and regional economic "development," not just "growth." That distinction sounds appealing, but what does it actually mean? Begin by defining and differentiating growth and development, and examine the implications of this distinction for economic planning efforts. What exactly (e.g., jobs, income, city size, etc.) is being "grown" vs. "developed"? (The Flammang article is a useful reference here, but do also examine how the two terms are used -- both implicitly and overtly -- in other readings and contexts as well.)
  2. Place-based policies: BIDs, enterprise zones (and their variations), and TIFs are examples of place-based economic development strategies. Pick two of these strategies and compare (e.g., the best — and worst — contexts for implementation; funding mechanisms; track record for effectiveness; distributional consequences; opportunity for abuse, etc.).
  3. The university as an economic entity: Public universities are changing in numerous ways: decline in state support, tuition increases, greater emphasis on entrepreneurship and outcome measures, increased efforts to link to global institutions, etc. In your essay, examine the changing role of universities in local and regional (and state) economic development. (For example: Should we primarily see the university's economic role attracting and training (and retaining) educated labor, as a partner in industry-university research collaborations, as a local land developer, as increasing the purchasing power in the local economy, etc? Is the large research university the new engine of high-tech growth?) To help focus your essay, you might identify what you think are the 2-3 most important transformations.


Assignment #2: Local Economic Portrait (due Feb 26)
A Detailed Economic Portrait of a Small Urban (or Suburban, or Small Town) Space (e.g., a block, a street, a strip, etc.)
Preference: Please work in groups of two. (You do have the option of working alone.)

**Please list your group members and location on this google drive document by Feb 3.

Local economic activities are embedded in place: in the buildings, streets, sidewalks of neighborhoods. Select a specific location, such a one-block segment of a commercial street, a block, a commercial strip, an industrial zone, etc. The area should be big enough to provide a substantive set of economic activities but small enough to be easily documented, visualized and analyzed. Be sure to clearly delineate your area on a map.

Your task: document and analyze the characteristics and dynamics of the economic activities and impacts of your selected area. Are these locally-serving businesses or part of the "economic base" (e.g., where do the customers come from; where are products shipped)? What are the demographics of the employees and customers? What trends do you see in the area (e.g., decline, transformation, gentrification, stability, etc.)? What visual clues provide evidence of economic conditions and changes? What are the biggest opportunities and challenges in the area? etc. (Strive for a vivid, insightful, multi-dimensional representation of the place.)

Possible sources and formats of evidence:
* visual representation of the site: photographs, drawings, plans, observation, graphics, drawings
* interviews with people on the street
* expert interviews (with shopkeepers, business owners, local community development staff, etc.)
* secondary data (Census data, etc.)
* newspaper stories etc.
* public documents and data (e.g., plans, tax data, etc.)
* public meetings, planning hearings, etc.
* other sources

Format of assignment:
The assignment has two components (both due Feb 26):
(1) presentation
We have approximately 11 groups, so each group will have about 6-7 minutes. To expedite the transition between presentations, please upload your presentation file (by 8:00 am Feb 26) to the course ctools site: "UP 538 001 W15 Resources / upload your Assign 2 Presentation files here (pptx or pdf)"

(2) one-page summary of local economic profile strategies
Write a concise, practical memo on the lessons learned from researching and developing an economic profile of a small urban space. Reflect on useful sources, methods, and approaches to interpretation. e.g., what visual cues did you find useful (or not useful)? What sources did you use (e.g., google maps, google earth, US Census data, online real estate data, local newspapers, interviews, etc.). You might write your summary as a how-to guide (e.g., "How to quickly use existing, readily available sources to develop an accurate, informative, insightful portrait of a neighborhood and its economic activities, conditions and challenges.") Focus on providing useful, practical advice for others who might want to learn from your own trial and error looking for evidence and clues. [Note: some of you will be using nearby sites you can physically visit and document; others will examine remote sites using only online or printed materials.] Please upload your answers (as a pdf file) to ctools: " UP 538 001 W15 Resources / upload your one-page Assignment 2 summary/"how-to" memo here (.pdf format)" This will allow students to share their experiences and tips with the rest of the class.


Assignment #3: Summary Essay on Course Themes due Thursday April 30 (end of day) [revised deadline]

Answer one of the following [page limit: 5 - 6 pages, double-spaced, not counting the bibliography]

1. Arguments for and Against Public Involvement in Local Economic Development: The use of public monies and public institutions to promote private enterprise in the public interest raises complex and at times unsettling questions about the proper role of economic development planning. Using class readings, examine the arguments for and against government involvement in local economic development planning. Identify several criteria (i.e., perspectives) that you use to evaluate these arguments, such as effectiveness, fairness, legitimacy, legality, impact on innovation, ethics, etc. Where appropriate, cite examples (e.g., stadiums, arts facilities, casinos, Wal-Mart, TIFs, enterprise zones, etc.).  Differentiate between ideological, logical and empirical arguments.

2.   Making Sense of the Wide Variation of Local Economic Development Policies and Ideas: The authors of the course readings have emphasized a wide variety of (sometimes conflicting) elements that may be crucial to creating and sustaining a healthy local economy: a friendly business climate; agglomeration economies; a good offering of local amenities to attract a highly educated workforce; low-cost labor and land; a tight network of innovative firms; aggressive economic development tools (e.g., IRBs, TIFs); proximity to universities, research parks, airports, etc.; active neighborhood-based involvement; protectionism; free-trade; to name just a few. Categorize the major themes and policies discussed in this course by defining and contrasting three or four different schools of local economic development thought (here, a "school of thought" ≈ a shared approach based on similar assumptions about how the local economy works and how to intervene). Explain the basic assumptions, beliefs and favored policy tools of each school, and cite at least several articles and/or authors (from class readings) as examples of each school. (If you use existing typologies found in the readings, don't simply replicate them in your essay. Instead, cite these sources, critique their typologies, and develop your own system of classification.)

3.  Translating US-Style Local Economic Development Policies to other Contexts: American-style economic development strategies are often applied to other parts of the world — sometimes with success, and sometimes quite inappropriately with unexpected outcomes (due to radically different regulatory contexts, labor markets, tax systems, social customs, etc). Select at least three economic development strategies discussed in class (for example, enterprise zones, research parks, tax increment financing, university-based technology transfer). Be sure to precisely define each strategy. Discuss how well or poorly these tools can be applied to the non-U.S. context. Clearly explain your reasoning. To focus your analysis, you may use a specific city or country outside the United States as an example.

4.  Diversification and Clusters: Economic diversification and clustering have been two reoccurring themes in the course discussions and readings. Define each term and explain the relevance for local and regional economic development. Are these beneficial traits? Are they compatible, or is there a tension between aiming for a diversified local economy and also promoting clusters?  (You might think of the various case studies in the readings: Silicon Valley, Berlin, Detroit, the defense sector, the boomtowns in China or shale fracking areas, etc.). 

5. The Physical City, the Economic City: The organization of MUP coursework by concentrations would suggest that "physical planning and design" (PPD) and "housing, community and economic development" (HCED) are distinctly different (or even unrelated) activities. Referring to class readings and examples, discuss the links (and gaps) between local economic development and physical planning/urban design. What connections already exist? (You might cite some examples of best practice.) Are there missed opportunities for collaboration? And if so, how might planners exploit the latent synergies between physical design and economic policy? (Optional: suggest revisions to the MUP curriculum that might better address the potential of integrating PPD and HCED.)


Assignment #4: Group Project (Project Proposal Feb 10; Draft Mar 31; Presentations Apr 16 & 21; final written version due Apr 28)

Students will work in small teams (ca. 2-4 students each) to examine a specific local economic development challenge in detail. Each group will (a) develop a set of interim deadlines for completing stages of the project; (b) present their results in class during the last week of the semester, and (c) submit a final written version of their project by the end of the semester (April 28). As necessary, we will allocate part of selected class sessions to work on group project tasks. Detailed instructions to follow.

Topics might address domestic or international issues of local or regional economic development. You have broad discretion regarding methodology: you might do an economic impact study; a historical analysis; a comparative analysis; policy evaluation; a theoretical exploration, etc. Your unit(s) of analysis might be a neighborhood, city, or region; an establishment, firm or sector; a plan or policy; a demographic group; a social problem; etc. Regardless of the topic, be sure to organize your project around a specific research or policy question, with a clear strategy for gathering evidence (quantitative or qualitative), developing your analysis and drawing conclusions.

HIGHLIGHTED PROJECT FOR THIS SEMESTER: "Detroit Advanced Manufacturing Supplier Park"
Each year we promote a specific group project topic. (Last year several groups examined the feasibility and impacts of building a major conference center in Ann Arbor). We have been approached this year by the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) in Ann Arbor to explore the idea of a new "Detroit Advanced Manufacturing Supplier Park," with a focus on bringing job training, jobs and innovation opportunities for Detroit residents. Students who choose this path will benefit by collaborating with CAR research staff and having access to extensive research, data and contacts on the topic. I will provide more information in class in late January.

A few other possible ideas: Evaluation of the Michigan Film Subsidy Program; the Economics of Fracking in Local Communities; the Economics of Green Jobs; Gentrification and the Ann Arbor Housing Market; the Changing Landscape of SE Michigan Auto Employment and Suppliers; a case study of an arts district; a case study of an innovation district (e.g., a biotech cluster); the economic impact of a new sports stadium; the employment impact of the local foods movement; the economic consequences of the Keystone Pipeline on a single community (e.g., in Nebraska);the local economic impact of marijuana legalization (e.g., in a Colorado town); economic impact of hosting the Olympics; etc.

Last years' group projects included: Innovation Districts in Detroit; Economic Development Role of Universities (cases in Latin America, China, Taiwan, Korea); Economic Feasibility of Building a Conference Center in Ann Arbor; College Town Economic Impacts (Athens GA and South Bend IN); Detroit Start-ups/Pop-Ups.

To help form groups and explore ideas, I have created this google document (that you have have permission to edit). Please informally use this document to list possible ideas google drive document, Table 1


STEP 1: Project Proposal (Feb 10)
A. Enter a brief summary of your project (here on this google drive document, Table 2).
B. Write a one page project proposal (group members, title, research or policy question, problem statement, methodology, and proposed table of content) and upload it to this google drive folder. File name should be in this format: projectname (last names of group members). E.g., "Michigan Film Subsidies (Kim, Schmidt, Johnson)"


STEP 2: Draft Paper (March 31)
Turn in a draft version of your project. This provides an incentive to complete as much work as possible before the end of semester rush (including the initial integration of various sections and a draft set of conclusions). It also provides an opportunity to receive substantive feedback to incorporate into your presentation and final versions. (Comments will be returned by April 7).


STEP 3: Class Presentations (April 16 +21)

Format for Presentation
We have set aside two class sessions (April 16 + 21) for presentations.  Depending on the total number of groups, each group will have about 15-20 minutes for formal presentations and to respond to questions.  The classroom (2210 A&AB) has both video and audio.

To expedite the transition between presentations, please upload your presentation file (by 8:00 am the morning of your presentation) to the course ctools site: "UP 538 001 W15 Resources / upload your Assign 4 final Presentation files here (pptx or pdf)" .

Feedback to Groups on Presentations
All students are expected to attend both presentation days. I will provide feedback forms for you to fill out and return to each group following their presentation. Briefly provide useful advice, such as: areas to expand; points to clarify; arguments requiring evidence or logical rethinking; tacit themes/arguments emerging from the presentation worthy of highlighting; overall strengths and weaknesses of the presentation.


STEP 4: Written Report (due April 28)

Format for Written Report
Length:   a suggested length of 16 - 28 double-spaced pages for text (not counting statistical graphics, maps and other visuals) -- likely more for narrative-rich historical and case study work; less for data-intensive work.  This limit is flexible.   I put a relatively modest page number to make you focus on a tight, concise analysis, rather than to write a lengthy research paper.    Obviously, larger groups will create longer reports.

Style and Organization: Organize your project around a specific, engaging question. A clear structure, a strong narrative, and a logical sequence of analytical steps will lead to a strong final product. Though a common strategy for group projects is to divide the work into separate sections, be sure to allocate time before the deadline to integrate the sections together into a coherent, seamless whole. Pay attention to your "writing voice": for example, differentiate between your own analysis and summaries of other analyses. Strive for systematic and crisp analysis and clear transitions between sections. More advice here (Section 1: "1. Advice for Better Academic Writing").

Citations: Be sure to cite ALL sources (of text, ideas, data, maps, images, etc.). See these guidelines.

Integration of narrative, analytical logic and data tables/charts: Edit and revise to have these three elements of your report support each other.