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Advisory Services and Research Projects


Research Publications and Policy Analysis

We stay abreast of major issues, best practices, and new trends in economic development in order to help practitioners:

• Identify best practices and techniques
• Improve the effectiveness of existing economic development tools and approaches
• Recommend changes to local, state and federal policies to strengthen economic development efforts


Economic Development Research Partners (EDRP) Program Publications

Recent EDRP Topics include:

• New Realities for Funding Economic Development Organizations
• Accelerating Success: Strategies to Support Growth-Oriented Companies
• New Realities for Economic Development Organizations
• Knowledge is Power: Working Effectively with Site Selectors
• Jobs in the Making: Economic Development Strategies to Grow Manufacturing


Creating a Clean Energy Economy (Forthcoming 2013)
Location: National

What does clean technology mean for economic development? IEDC has applied this question to three clean tech sectors: electric vehicles, net-zero energy homes, and offshore wind, through a grant from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. While relatively underdeveloped in the U.S., these sectors can bring jobs, revenue, and industry growth to communities. Using in-depth research as well as feedback from industry experts and economic developers, IEDC is developing a two-part report on the potential of each sector. Scheduled for release in early 2013, this report will highlight sector-based opportunities and strategies for future market growth and job creation with a state of the market analysis, examination of job creation potential, and discussion of hurdles and solutions to development. IEDC also co-hosted a “Driving Growth in Electric Vehicles” workshop in partnership with the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. The workshop brought together EV industry leaders and economic developers to discuss opportunities and challenges in electric vehicle development in a small breakout group setting. The group brainstormed key market hurdles, identified opportunities for collaboration, and outlined critical next steps to turning the growth potential of EVs into a reality.


Powering Up: State Assets & Barriers to Renewable Energy Growth (2011)
Location: National

As energy becomes an increasingly important national and global priority, there is a significant hunger on the part of the economic development community for useful information on how to effectively support the development of their renewable energy industry. Many states have proactively generated policies with the goal of launching a viable and ultimately competitive renewable energy industry. This report, Funded by The Energy Foundation, employs primary and secondary research to provide a current snapshot of what states see as their assets for renewable energy development, and the policies they are using to strategically develop their renewable energy industry as both an end goal in itself and as a lever for wider economic development. The report also highlights strategies and best practices in funding mechanisms as well as supply chain issues faced in developing renewable energy sectors.


IEDC History Project (2011)
Location: National

In 2011, IEDC celebrated the eighty-fifth anniversary of the organization and its predecessors, the Council for Urban Economic Development (CUED) and the American Economic Development Council (AEDC). That year also marked the tenth anniversary of IEDC's creation from the merger of AEDC and CUED in May 2001.

The IEDC History Project was undertaken to commemorate the anniversaries. The project documents the history of the economic development profession through interviews with former chairs, presidents, award winners, and other leaders of AEDC, CUED and IEDC. It includes commentary on the profession's early years and covers the merger of AEDC and CUED, the current state of the organization, and the future of the economic development field. The 59 interviews that were conducted reflect a continuum of leadership that spans six decades.

These interviews, along with other substantial research, were used to as the basis for a 28-page paper titled “Ten Years after the Merger: A Celebration of IEDC and Its Forerunners.” In addition, IEDC undertook a project to identify individuals in many of the historical photos and to digitally archive the photos. In total, over 5,000 pictures were digitized, labeled, and organized. This photo archive, along with previously mentioned interview transcripts and research paper, has been made available on IEDC’s website.


Creating Quality Jobs: Transforming the Economic Development Landscape (2010)
Location: National

As the role of economic developers has expanded to include everything from technology transfer to attracting retail to expand a community's tax base, the profession must examine the types of jobs it is creating and how well they meet the needs of individuals and communities in a globalized, skill-based economy. This report, funded by the Ford Foundation, identifies the role of economic developers in creating quality jobs and improving the quality of existing jobs.


Getting Prepared: Economic Development in a Transforming Energy Economy (2010)
Location: National

Now more than ever, economic development has to adapt to a volatile energy market and policies that are emerging to shape that market, a process that holds both opportunities and challenges. While the specifics of the transition to a low-carbon economy are still being debated both nationally and internationally, it appears likely that some type of cap and trade or carbon pricing will emerge. A price on carbon will hold significant implications for U.S. industries, regions and the nation as a whole. This report, funded by The Energy Foundation, is intended to help economic developers and those in related fields think about how they can position their economies to benefit from the transition.


An Improved Federal Response to Post-Disaster Economic Recovery (2010)
Location: National

This report, sponsored by the Economic Development Administration and the Edward Lowe Foundation, identifies capacity, resource and regulatory constraints imposed on local communities after a disaster, and presents a series of recommendations on how federal partners could better assist communities in their recovery effort.


Lebanon City Development Technical Assistance Project (2007-2008)

IEDC is partnered with the International City Managers Association (ICMA) to help provide to sector-specific economic development and competitiveness strategies in five cities in the Northern and Southern parts of Lebanon. IEDC work includes coordinating members to provide economic development tools and information through a Virtual Advisory Panel. IEDC also gathered economic development methodologies, templates and questionnaires related to economic surveys and assessments as examples of good practices.


Brownfields Redevelopment Research (2007-Present)
Location: National

IEDC, as a subcontractor to SRA International, Inc., is part of a multi-firm team to conduct research and disseminate information on brownfields redevelopment. Recent and ongoing projects include research into sustainable development and brownfields redevelopment, automobile industry related brownfields, petroleum based contamination, and research on existing sources of brownfields information.


National Capacities to support Small Business Development Policy in Latin America – InterAmerican Development Bank (2006)
Location: Latin America and the Caribbean

The publication, Institutional Capacities for Small Business Policy Development in Latin America and the Caribbean, produced in collaboration with the Inter-American Development Bank, identifies weaknesses in developing optimum support policies for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Latin America and the Caribbean. Research and surveys present a comparative analysis of the capacity of national MSME institutions to support small business development. The study includes a rating of the institutions’ capacity to coordinate the MSME sector based on the Institutional Capacity Index and the proposed creation of an MSME Institution Learning system that would improve MSME public policy and institutional support in Latin America and the Caribbean.


Economic Development and Smart Growth (Publication)—U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (2006)
Location: National

IEDC’s Economic Development and Smart Growth presents eight case studies on communities that incorporated smart growth principles in their development projects and have experienced economic development improvements in the form of increased tax revenue, more jobs, higher income levels, downtown revitalization, business growth, and other indicators of economic success. The case studies range from the use of transit-oriented development in Portland, Oregon, where light rail has sparked $3 billion in new development, to commercial corridor revitalization in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where it has nearly doubled the per capita income in the south side of the city. IEDC’s case-based research provides direction for local government officials, economic development professionals, and all those concerned with the future of their communities.


International Brownfields Redevelopment (Publication)—U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (2005)
Location: Canada, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Germany

IEDC’s publication International Brownfields Redevelopment describes and compares the approaches to redeveloping contaminated land in Canada, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Germany. Funded by a U.S. EPA grant, the publication reviews each country’s regulatory environment, planning processes, redevelopment practices and funding sources. The focus extends beyond contaminated property issues to encompass redevelopment more broadly. Case studies help illustrate how different countries’ economic and legal frameworks and social goals affect the redevelopment process.


Targeted Area Redevelopment (Publication)—U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (2005)
Location: National

This publication examines core issues and best practices in targeted area redevelopment, focusing on improvement of multiple properties. In targeted area redevelopment, localities, along with state enabling legislation and through a public participation process, designate physically, economically and underutilized areas for redevelopment.

IEDC’s research is based on interviews and information from redevelopment practitioners across the country, focusing on nine states. Our research builds on the experiences of best practice cities and states, with goals to make targeted area redevelopment stronger where it is already in place, and help cities and states adopt it in areas where needed. IEDC reviewed the approach of states that have successfully implemented targeted area redevelopment, identified best practices, and explored ways to improve redevelopment at the policy level.


A Region in Transition: Decline and Recovery in the Rust Belt, World Bank (2005)
Location: Midwest United States

This paper provides an understanding of how the United States has dealt with the Rust Belt region, the historical evolution of the Rust Belt, public policy to address the challenges, evaluation of public policy responses, and key lessons learned. While federal and state initiatives were important, IEDC found that local government and the private sector were the key drivers behind job growth during the Rust Belt recovery. Industry recalibrated its effectiveness by shifting from mass production into customization. Cities focused on downtown revitalization and university-industry partnerships. The report was prepared to assist middle income countries that are or may face industrial decline. It includes an introductory discussion, examination of policy measures, case studies, and supporting data.


Infobriefs – Department of Defense (2005)
Location: National

IEDC’s affiliate organization, Association of Defense Communities (ADC) publication series, Infobriefs, is designed to provide concise overviews of important, timely topics of interest to defense communities. Infobriefs cover topics that are relevant to BRAC 2005 communities, active base communities, redevelopment projects from previous rounds and the private sector. For example, Organizing Your Planning Effort: The First Steps in Installation Redevelopment, provides communities affected by closure or realignment in BRAC 2005 a vision for site redevelopment and how to begin the reuse planning process.


A White Paper of Best Practices for Regional Economic Development–Regional Development Corporation of New Mexico (2003)
Location: New Mexico

IEDC facilitated a forum attended by economic development stakeholders from local governments, pueblos, state and federal governments, and non-profits in Los Alamos, Rio Arriba and Santa Fe counties. The group discussed regional challenges, barriers to regional cooperation and suggested strategies to address them. Based on input gathered at the forum, IEDC produced a white paper of best practices and case studies focused on the stakeholders’ identified areas of interest: regional marketing; film industry development; regional economic development training for elected officials, and increasing communication among funding entities.


Michigan Urban Agenda: Best Practices in Urban Redevelopment—Michigan Economic Development Corporation [MEDC] (2001)
Location: Michigan

IEDC assisted the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) with the development of an Urban Agenda for the state of Michigan. To assist MEDC in this effort, IEDC conducted research on best practices in urban redevelopment. The first phase included a survey of best practices covering all aspects of urban redevelopment—from predevelopment to construction. After working with MEDC to identify priority areas for further research, IEDC conducted in-depth case study research of best practices in those specific areas of interest to MEDC. IEDC examined land assembly and acquisition, market-rate housing, and building code revisions for rehabilitation.


Converting Brownfields to Green Space (publication)—U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (2001)
Location: National

This publication shows that many communities are finding unique social, economic, and environmental benefits from turning brownfields into parks and open space—benefits such as recreation opportunities and transportation choices, restored natural environments, improved community appearance and perception, and higher surrounding property values. The report includes 25 case studies illustrating innovative brownfield redevelopment projects in the United States and provides information on funding sources, liability, and creative partnerships. The publication is intended to assist local practitioners to develop their own strategies for creating valuable public green spaces from brownfields.


Technology SmartZones—Michigan Economic Development Corporation (2001-2002)
Location: Michigan

IEDC assisted the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) in the implementation of its SmartZone Network. MEDC established ten SmartZones across the state where technology and urban redevelopment are facilitated and promoted together. SmartZones are urban technology-based business parks that are linked to university sponsors. IEDC provided best practices research on technology commercialization; research park development, operations, and marketing; strategies for joint marketing of sites; state and local regulatory and legislative initiatives; and performance evaluation. IEDC conducted site visits and white paper research as needed to assist MEDC with the successful implementation of the initiative.


Technology SmartZones, Phase II—Michigan Economic Development Corporation (2002)
Location: Michgan

IEDC completed research and case studies for the Technology Business Acceleration report commissioned by Michigan Economic Development Corporation. The report examined critical factors for technology business acceleration including: identifying the technology, servicing the business, building talent, accessing capital, managing the program, and focusing local assets. Case studies included reviews of seven successful technology business accelerators from around the country.


Brownfields Reuse Report (Publication)—XL Environmental Inc. (2000-2001)
Location: National

Under contract with the environmental insurance firm XL Environmental, IEDC researched and wrote the Brownfields Reuse Report in 2000 and 2001. The report is a brownfields media review. XL Environmental staff gathered approximately 400 brownfields-related articles from newspapers and journals throughout the United States. IEDC staff analyzed the articles, which discussed both specific brownfields projects and general brownfields programs in regions and states. The report outlines the trends in site size, type of reuse, governmental involvement, public participation, remediation methods, funding, and other topics.


Strategies for Reinventing Cities (Publication)—U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (2001)
Location: Colorado, California, Idaho, North Dakota, Ohio, and New Jersey

Under a subcontract, IEDC conducted research for HUD on the economic transformation of six cities: Denver, CO; Oakland, CA; Boise, ID; Fargo, ND; Akron, OH; and Newark, NJ. IEDC completed in-depth case studies on each city. HUD combined IEDC cases with those of the prime contractor and published the report: Strategies for Success: Reinventing Cities for the 21st Century.


Web Site Planning—Eastern Idaho Economic Development Council (EIEDC) (2001)
Location: Idaho Falls, ID

IEDC assisted Eastern Idaho with their plans for a regional economic development web site to address economic development marketing and regional communication. Spearheaded by EIEDC, the effort was truly a regional approach with all stakeholders coming together to identify needs and expectations for a regional economic development web site. IEDC conducted research on economic development web sites from other regions similar to Eastern Idaho. From this research, IEDC developed a Conceptual Plan describing recommended elements for an Eastern Idaho economic development web site. IEDC staff then developed a Management & Operations Plan describing how the web site should be implemented and maintained.


Regional Economic Needs Analysis and Economic Development Strategy—Indiana Department of Transportation (1998 & 2000)
Location: Southwest Indiana

IEDC studied a 25-county region of Southwest Indiana to assess regional economic development issues in light of a proposed interstate highway. IEDC conducted research and convened an expert panel of economic development professionals. Among IEDC’s findings were:

• Possible threats to future rail access for commercial and industrial customers
• Potential constraints to growth posed by workforce development issues
• Possible electricity supply shortages
• High business dependency on highway transportation system
• Existing business concerns about the quality of the road system
• Solid regional cooperation for economic development
• Needs for economic development and transportation planning

IEDC also evaluated economic development options such as rural enterprise zones, tax abatements, improvements to freight rail handling capabilities, funding for industrial development, high-technology park construction, and job training programs.


Non-Traditional Financing Options for Real Estate Development (2000)
Location: Hartford, Connecticut

As a subcontractor, IEDC investigated options available to the City of Hartford for real estate development and redevelopment. The project focused on non-traditional funding sources for small- and large-scale projects. In addition to identifying financing options, IEDC developed multiple scenarios to show how a development deal could be structured using traditional and non-traditional financing with special attention to three current Hartford projects. Additionally, IEDC explored innovative techniques such as resident-based equity capital, historic preservation easements, transfer of development rights, tenant financing, and tax-increment financing.


Regional Technology Agenda—Ben Franklin Technology Partners (2000)
Location: S.E. PA

IEDC assisted Ben Franklin Technology Partners to identify the technology strengths, opportunities and trends in the counties of the Southeastern Pennsylvania region. Extensive interviews and a live videoconference linking all five counties engaged the Southeast Pennsylvania region in a discussion about the region’s position in the new economy. IEDC helped to identify opportunities for technology-driven development and to generate content for dissemination to the public at large.


Revitalization through Interjurisdictional Partnerships: Lessons for Georgia Avenue—DC Agenda (2000)
Location: Washington, DC

For DC Agenda’s efforts to facilitate the revitalization of Upper Georgia Avenue (Silver Spring, Maryland and Washington, DC), IEDC conducted research and prepared in-depth case studies on successful multi-jurisdictional revitalization efforts. IEDC prepared four case studies on innovative interjurisdictional cooperation including: a special improvement district that includes both Philadelphia and Lower Merion Township; a nonprofit organization that coordinates the revitalization activities of a three-county, 13-community corridor in the Detroit region; a joint planning and revitalization process between the City of Oakland and a wealthy suburban neighbor; and a multi-jurisdictional special improvement district in San Diego.


Economic Development Survey (2000)
Location: Commonwealth of Puerto Rico

IEDC conducted a comprehensive survey of the economic development framework in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. IEDC found Puerto Rico’s informal political structures and movement toward non-labor intensive industries, geographic location, connection to U.S. governing systems, bilingual and bi-cultural society important aspects of economic development as Puerto Rican officials look toward the potential of globalization.


Real Estate Redevelopment and Reuse: An Economic Development Practitioner’s Guide (Publication)—Economic Development Administration (2000)
Location: National

The book serves as a reference and how-to manual for economic development professionals looking to redevelop property and areas. It covers topics such as building reuse options, land assembly, public participation, parking, financial analysis, economic impact, environmental issues, developer requests for proposals, and developer approvals and agreements. The publication discusses various private, federal, state and local sources of funding and the strengths and weaknesses of each. The book also summarizes the characteristics of building reuse through a survey of 57 projects across the country.


Economic Development Performance Measurement: Key Factors Influencing Evaluation Methods and Measurement Results (Publication)—U.S. Department of Energy (2000)
Location: National This white paper evaluates definitions and procedures for the performance measures that are frequently used to evaluate federal economic development investments. This report takes a critical look at the indicators used by federal agencies—specifically, jobs created and costs-per-job. Additionally, the report looks at definitions of jobs, the methods used to calculate cost per job, and factors that influence job creation and cost figures. The report concludes with a set of recommendations for improving the use of these indicators in evaluating economic development efforts.


Workforce Development Manual (Publication)—Team Pennsylvania Workforce Investment Board, Team Pennsylvania Foundation, and Verizon (1999)
Location: Pennsylvania

IEDC wrote a manual on workforce development for economic development professionals. Using examples from Pennsylvania and throughout the United States, this manual serves as a resource and reference for the implementation of successful workforce development programs.


Brownfields Redevelopment Performance Evaluation (Publication)—U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (1999)
Location: National

This report provides research to determine benchmarks: discrete, measurable indicators that can be evaluated and applied to a wide variety of brownfield redevelopment projects. The benchmarks focus on economic development benefits-primarily jobs created-and leveraged private sector funding. This research provides insight on how 107 brownfield deals around the country were structured and financed. It provides practitioners with a better understanding of the dynamics of real estate deals involving contamination. Most importantly, this report fills an important gap in brownfields studies, which has been criticized for the lack of empirical research.


Best Practices in Business-Driven State Workforce Development Programs—Texas Workforce Commission (1999)
Location: California, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, and Wisconsin

As a subcontractor, IEDC prepared a report documenting case studies in best practices of business-driven state workforce development programs. The report cited programs in California, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina and Wisconsin. The purpose of the report is to demonstrate successful ways state workforce development programs market their services to businesses.


Performance Monitoring: Achieving Excellence in Economic Development (Publication)—Economic Development Administration (1999)

IEDC partnered with Deloitte & Touche and Greater London Enterprise to prepare the second report in a two-part series on benchmarking. IEDC created the report to help economic developers understand the potential of using performance monitoring to improve program results. This report is a companion volume to an earlier IEDC report, Benchmarking Practices to Achieve Customer Driven Economic Development. This volume looks at the uses of performance measurement in six program areas: (1) infrastructure; (2) economic development finance; (3) workforce development; (4) metropolitan and regional economic strategies; (5) neighborhood revitalization; and 6) Enterprise Zones, Empowerment Zones and Enterprise Communities.


Mobilizing Community Resources for Local Economic Development in Central and Eastern Europe and the Newly Independent States—ICMA / U.S. Agency for International Development (1999)
Location: International

IEDC worked with the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) to produce a final report that summarized the main themes, findings, conclusions and recommendations developed during the November 9-12, 1998 conference in Bucharest, Romania on mobilizing local resources for economic development. The conference was sponsored by U.S. AID, the Council of Europe, the World Bank and the Soros Foundation.


Understanding Local Economic Development in Central and Eastern Europe and the Newly Independent States (CEE/NIS) Region: An Introduction (Publication)—U.S. Agency for International Development (1998)
Location: Central/ Eastern Europe

As subcontractor, IEDC , researched local economic development initiatives in Central and Eastern Europe and the Newly Independent States to develop a set of six briefing papers for USAID, outlining the basics of doing economic development for communities in that region. The papers included: (1) “Overview: Local Economic Development in Central and Eastern Europe and the New Independent States,” (2) “What is Local Economic Development?” (3) “Who Does Local Economic Development?,” (4) “Economic Development Processes: Strategic Planning,” (5) “Economic Development Tools: Infrastructure,” and (6) “Economic Development Tools: Business Assistance.” To complete these papers, IEDC researchers went to Poland, Hungary and Bulgaria and met with local officials, business associations, central government representatives, nongovernmental organizations and other stakeholders.


St. Louis Industrial Development (1998)
Location: St. Louis, Missouri

As a subcontractor , IEDC evaluated tools to facilitate industrial development in St. Louis. For Phase I of the assignment, IEDC looked at land assembly, tax increment financing, loan securitization, and HUD Section 108 loans. For Phase II, IEDC prepared case studies on land assembly and recommended a land assembly strategy for St. Louis.


Nicaragua Economic Development Strategy—Nicaragua (1998)
Location: Nicaragua

IEDC participated on an expert panel evaluating Nicaragua’s economic development strategy for large businesses. The panel, which was coordinated by the Inter-American Development Bank, met directly with the Minister of the Economy and Development and his staff.


Changing Management Practices in Economic Development Incentive Programs—Cleveland State University (1997-1998)
Location: Cleveland, Ohio

As a subcontractor, IEDC undertook a 12-state study to determine whether changing incentive-management practices emerging in economic development were making local governments more accountable to the public. This was part of a larger study evaluating the state of Ohio’s ensemble of economic development programs. The study looked at the increasing use of performance-based incentives in economic development programs. The study determined how these methods were changing the management of economic development.


American Suburbanization: Its Economic and Social Effects on the Central City (Publication)—Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (1997)
Location: National

For the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), IEDC produced a publication providing an overview of the suburbanization process in the United States. The report seeks to explain the unique American experience of suburbanization and how its progression has had widespread consequences on the economic health of the central city. The report includes sections on historical reasons for the flight of businesses and people from the inner city, social and economic impacts of suburbanization, and government responses that could alleviate the negative impacts.


Study Tour of Local Economic Development in Eastern and Western Germany—German Marshall Fund (1997)
Location: Germany

With a grant from the German Marshall Fund, IEDC organized a study tour for IEDC staff and members. The tour was of local economic development initiatives in Eastern and Western Germany. The purpose of the trip was to learn about local economic development problems in Eastern Germany, share experiences and develop networks to identify areas for joint work and regular information exchanges.


Study Tour of Public-Private Partnerships for a South African Delegation—U.S. Agency for International Development (1997)
Location: South Africa

IEDC organized a tour of U.S. public-private partnerships for a visiting South African delegation. The delegation came from the community of Harrismith, South Africa. It comprised business, community and political representatives who were working together to develop a public-private partnership for economic development. The tour, funded by the U.S. Agency of International Development (U.S. AID) South Africa, was designed to teach the delegation how to set up and manage a public-private partnership to achieve economic development objectives.


Incentives: A Guide to an Effective and Equitable Policy (publication)—Economic Development Administration (1996)

IEDC published a report summarizing and comparing current practices in business attraction. The publication’s case studies and examples were chosen as guides for economic development practitioners to use when developing their own recruiting and retention policies. The work discusses types of incentives, their efficiency in achieving community goals, and ways to link performance with the value of the incentives.


Benchmarking Practices to Achieve Customer Driven Economic Development (Publication)—Economic Development Administration (1996)

IEDC and PHH Fantus Consulting published the first of a two-volume set on benchmarking in 1996. The document presents best practices in evaluating standard economic development initiatives: industry attraction and retention, technology transfer programs, business incubators and research parks, downtown development and export assistance programs.


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