#277. Three Steps to Regional Development

Posted on | The Agurban

Last week we wrote about the Four Things the Midwest Must Do, a portion of Mark Drabenstott’s recent report, Past Silos and Smokestacks: Transforming the Rural Economy in the Midwest. You may recall that Mark is the Director of the Center for Regional Competitiveness at the Rural Policy Research Institute.

This week we want to share a little more of Mark’s report.  Following is an excerpt focusing on regional development:

Three Steps to Regional Development

There is strong consensus that the best way to foster regional development is to pursue three things simultaneously:

· Encourage regional critical mass-act regionally to compete globally. Put another way, the era of single community/county development is over. Achieving a level of “agglomeration” is critical to success. This agglomeration describes a whole spectrum of beneficial economic synergies that emerge only at the level of a region rather than a single jurisdiction such as a village, county, or city.
· Prioritize investments in public goods and services to unlock a region’s economic potential. The key to growth is seizing each region’s unique competitive advantage in global markets. Critical public goods are often required to achieve this. In the wake of the financial crisis, well-targeted investments in public goods will pay especially strong fiscal dividends to states and federal governments wrestling with huge fiscal deficits.
· Spur innovation to transform a region’s economy. Innovation is essential to helping regions compete in today’s global economy- competing on cost alone is no longer enough. Moreover, innovation is a distinctly regional phenomenon, shaped by the unique institutional and business features of the region’s landscape, history, and culture. While “regional innovation” remains somewhat of an unknown, special efforts to foster it will almost certainly pay big dividends.

We at Agracel and Boomtown Institute believe regionalism may be one of the most critical factors in transforming certain areas of our country into successful regions. Smaller communities and counties generally do not have the resources, either financially and personnel wise, to do it alone. However, banding together with neighboring communities and counties can sometimes get a region recognized.

People looking at where to live or to locate a new business today are less concerned about where the boundaries were drawn by a surveyor in the 19th century. In today’s 21st century economy, city, county, state, and even international boundaries, are somewhat obsolete.

For the complete report, visit here.