Urban Planning 538:  Economic Development Planning  Winter 2017

Assignments (DRAFT)

last updated Wednesday, March 15, 2017 9:59 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 and presentations 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):


Place Marketing Example • due Jan 25

Each of you is to locate an interesting example of place marketing and briefly present the image in class. Be ready to evaluate/critique the image and place it in context.

Task for class: By Wednesday evening, please find an example of "place marketing" / place branding. (print, web, video). Then do one of the following.
1. Create a slide of your image(s) and upload it to the class GOOGLE SLIDES file created for this task.
2. If you want to instead show a dynamic web page that is better shown directly on a browser than via google slides, then create a slide in the above file with a link to the web page.

Be sure to include on the slide:



D1. Debate Prep Memo ("Is Gentrification a sign of vibrant economic development to be promoted or a discriminatory disrupter to be resisted?") • due Jan 30 • You may write this in groups of two (but individual submissions fine as well). Upload to Canvas.

Memo Format:
You are to write a four page memo that would serve as a concise set of arguments for both someone arguing in support of the above statement and someone arguing against the above statement.
Page 1: Concisely state the argument in support.
Page 2: Concisely state the argument in opposition.
Page 3: Write a one page critique of each side of the debate (evaluating the evidence, logic and other merits of the positions).
Page 4: List your sources (literature, data, etc.) here.

The debate format [DRAFT]:


E1. Short Essay #1 • due Friday, Feb 10 (5:00 pm)

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). Use complete and correct citations (see these guidelines).

  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. Boomtowns and Rapid Growth: Some might say that "you can't have too much of a good thing," but if growth is a good thing, then it might still come too quickly to lead to a healthy local economy and healthy local community. In your essay, begin by articulating the dynamics and characteristics of rapidly growing local economies. Do all boomtowns share common characteristics, or is there a wide variation? (Cite examples where appropriate.) What local planning or policy strategies might be employed to mitigate the problems arising from rapid urban growth?
  3. A local "resource curse"? The literature on international development often speaks of the "resource curse" — the apparent paradox that countries with rich reserves of high-value natural resources often suffer from fragile, imbalanced or unsustainable national economies. Can we speak of a "resource curse" at the local level as well? Do some town and cities suffer from this curse just as nations do? If so, how might the dynamics and consequences of a resource curse differ between the local and national levels? (This essay might require reference to literature not on the syllabus, but it could be an interesting essay for some.)
  4. Selling Places: Place marketing emerged as a central theme of contemporary economic development efforts. For some, this emergence of place marketing is a logical and inevitable development of the late-capitalist, post-industrial era and its emphasis on culture, symbols, advertising images, tourism, mass-media, amenity-driven development, attracting the high-tech class, etc. Yet others might be skeptical of this pre-occupation with place marketing, arguing instead for "a return to the basics" in local economic development (that is, focusing on concrete, tangible factors such as infrastructure, education and training, tax rates, land development barriers, productivity, etc.) In your essay, examine this tension. (For example, is it the tension between appearance and reality? façade and structure? "soft" versus "hard" locational factors? the "old economy" vs. the "new economy"? or something else?) What is the role of specific buildings and neighborhoods (e.g., museums, stadiums, waterfront developments, shopping streets, skyscrapers, etc.) in place marketing? In the end, what do you think is the appropriate role of place marketing in economic development?

P. Local Economic Portrait • Presentations Feb 20 & 22 • Memo due Feb 22 • groups of two (group of 3 ok as well)

A Detailed Economic Portrait of a Small Urban (or Suburban, or Small Town) Space (e.g., a block, a street, a strip, etc.)
Preferred group size: two students. (You do have the option of working alone or a group of three, though the latter requires more explicit organization and division of labor.)

**Please list your group members and location on this google drive document by Jan 25.


come BOTH days, on-time at 9:10 (catch that earlier blue campus bus):

Monday (20 minute presentations + 5 minutes for discussion each): Wednesday (15 minute presentations + 5 minutes for discussion each)
  • Midtown, Detroit. Between MLK blvd, Woodward Ave., Warren Ave., and the Freeway.
  • Downtown Plymouth, MI: Forest Ave between Ann Arbor Trail and Wing St
  • Southwest Detroit
  • Downtown Ann Arbor? Bordered by Main Street and S. 5th Avenue to the west and east, and Huron and Liberty to the North and South.
  • Liangzhu Culture Residence, Hangzhou, China
  • Ypsilanti, Depot Town
  • Ann Arbor: South University between East University and Forest Avenue


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 [interviews can be a powerful addition to your research and are highly recommended!]
* 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:
(1) presentation (on Feb 20 & 22)
Depending on the number of groups, each groups will have about 15 minutes to present (plus 5 minutes for discussion). Please upload your presentation file (by 8:00 am Feb 20) to this google drive folder.

(2) one-page summary of local economic profile strategies (due Feb 22)
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 Canvas. This will allow students to share their experiences and tips with the rest of the class.

file name formats:
presentation: portrait,Yourlastname,Yourlastname
memo: memo,Yourlastname,Yourlastname

Additional Ideas on Sources of Information:

Advice to prepare a great portrait of an urban economic space:

  1. Use multiple sources of evidence (inputs): interviews, data, observation, photographs, newspapers, historical records, business journals, annual reports, non-profits' reports, local business associations, etc.
  2. Put effort into several areas of your product (output): photographs, charts, maps, description, analysis, interpretation, stories, history (don't just concentration on one). Integrate these into a coherent presentation. (Avoid just presenting a series of images or a flurry of descriptive data.)
  3. Critically (thoughtfully, analytically, creatively) engage the interaction between place (buildings, storefronts, sidewalks, streets, etc.) and economic activity (employment, sales, value-added, etc.) and people (customers, residents, shop owners, employees, etc.). How does this place work as a very local economy?



E2. Short Essay #2 • due Friday, March 31 (end of the day) (new due date)

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 (double-spaced) not counting the bibliography. Use complete and correct citations (see these guidelines).

  1. Tourism: The study of tourism might suggest "popular culture studies": a focus on an entertaining but frivolous activity. But tourism has emerged as a huge and growing export sector of the economy: it links together architecture, image-making, the marketing of place, local economic development, and questions of historic preservation and authenticity. In your essay, discuss the distinctive characteristics of the tourist sector in the urban context. When is targeting tourism as a local economic development strategy a useful investment? What are the benefits and downsides of tourism promotion?
  2. The Arts: What explains the increased interest in the arts as a tool in local economic development? Is this an indication that the arts is an integral part of the late-industrial, creative economy? Or does this interest exaggerate the potential of the arts to stimulate and revitalize local economies? Critically examine the contemporary role of arts-led economic development. Would you recommend that cities increase arts spending as a tool of economic development, and if so, how?
  3. Resilience: One hears a lot of talk about the benefits of resilience for a city or regional economy. But what does "resilience" actually mean? (For example, how might it be linked to other characteristics of the city, such as diversification, robustness, capital, linkages, capacity, wealth, civil society, social justice, markets, etc.?) And if resilience is a beneficial characteristic of a local/regional economy, how do you promote resilience in a community?
  4. Silicon Valley: Many other communities around the country and globe have sought to emulate the Silicon Valley model of a dynamic, affluent high-tech region. In your essay, address two (interrelated) questions: (1) To what extent was Silicon Valley the result of a planned, organized effort (by either public and/or private interests) to build a high-tech region? (2) Does Silicon Valley represent a replicable model of regional development (or is it instead an exceptional, one-off occurrence)?
  5. Megaprojects: In our class session on March 15, we discussed two alternative views of megaprojects: (1) a huge risk with systemic cost overruns, exaggerated estimates of benefits, huge environmental consequences, and major disruption for local communities. Or (2) the most effective tool of government to promote economic development, modernization and improve the overall efficiency, mobility and standard of living for the population as a whole. Referring to readings (about the costs, benefits, dynamics and consequences of megaprojects), evaluate these two arguments. Can you see effective measures to maximize the possibility of positive benefits (#2) and minimize the risks of huge problems (#1), and if so, can you point to any examples?

D2. Debate Prep Memo ("Should local governments subsidize sports stadiums?") • due Apr 5 [revised date] • You may write this in groups of two (but individual submissions fine as well)

Memo Format:
You are to write a four page memo that would serve as a concise set of arguments for both someone arguing in support of the above statement and someone arguing against the above statement.
Page 1: Concisely state the argument in support.
Page 2: Concisely state the argument in opposition.
Page 3: Write a one page critique of each side of the debate (evaluating the evidence, logic and other merits of the positions).
Page 4: List your sources (literature, data, etc.) here.

The debate format:


Last Session: Course Synthesis • due Apr 17

This last session will provide an opportunity to link common themes from the presentations and develop a set of principles for good local economic development planning.

TASK: Each student is to come to class with a one-page sheet of 5-7 lessons / principles about local economic planning and development. (one possible format: a numbered list; each lesson / principle should be one or several sentences long.) If useful, you might also include a map, diagram, or illustration. Feel free to be creative and employ a different format. Each student will distribute their handout and briefly discuss.
Print 15 copies: enough copies for all class members.


E3. Summary Essay • due April 24

Answer ONE of the questions below. Read the instructions above about format and style. Use complete and correct citations (see these guidelines). 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. 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., 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.)