Forget the Smokestacks…Chase the Housing: A Case Study in Smaller City Reinvention

141104-Small-TownIt has been a busy year here at Fourth Economy. Many projects have kept us hard at work, traveling across the country and meeting great folks. A theme among these projects has been a growing desire and recognition for all places, communities and towns to reinvent themselves – transform, reimagine, pivot – all in order to attract new investment and the talent that fuels it. And within this theme is a common recognition that without quality options to live, sleep and interact, it is tough to attract that talent. Housing and the context that surrounds a community’s housing stock is (or should be) a cornerstone to any competitive and sustainable economic development strategy. Continue reading “Forget the Smokestacks…Chase the Housing: A Case Study in Smaller City Reinvention”

The Launch of Innovate H2O

Innovate-H2ONew ideas fuel the fourth economy.  But they need the right talent, money and a market ready to greet them.  There are few market opportunities that need new ideas and innovation than those within the water sector.  In 2012, Fourth Economy helped to launch the Water Economy Network (WEN).  A key goal for WEN and its industry members is to encourage new water related technology development and deployment.  To help WEN achieve that goal, Fourth Economy and WEN joined with Idea Foundry (a Pittsburgh-based non-profit that specializes in innovation acceleration and commercialization) to launch a water technology acceleration program called Innovate H2O. Innovate H2O is a program aimed at identifying and accelerating breakthrough solutions that address global water challenges. Continue reading “The Launch of Innovate H2O”

A Fourth Economy Work Product with Legs

131122-Transit-ReportOne of the regular questions asked of our firm is “what Fourth Economy projects or reports have been implemented?”  While we think all of them have added value and are implemented to some degree, one project stands out.  In 2009 Fourth Economy teamed with Clear View Strategies and URS Corporation to conduct a study on Transit Oriented Development (TOD).

The client was the Southwestern Planning Commission in Pennsylvania.  The product entitled Future Investment in TOD (or FIT) was a first of its kind report that not only documented the success factors for a TOD but also provided a predictive model for planners and economic developers to determine where and how a TOD development would have the greatest economic impact and success. Continue reading “A Fourth Economy Work Product with Legs”

What’s New in Economic Impact

131022-What's-New-in-Economic-ImpactHaving personally conducted and written more than 75 comprehensive economic impact studies using linear cash flow models for higher education and health care clients over my 16+ year career, I thought it would be interesting to look more closely at how the focus of economic impact reports has changed over the years.  Continue reading “What’s New in Economic Impact”

The TechBelt Initiative Receives Excellence in Economic Development Award from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC)

131016-IEDC-TechBelt-AwardA multi-state, economic growth accelerator, the TechBelt initiative has been recognized with a Bronze Excellence in Economic Development Award from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC).  Presented on Oct. 8 at the 2013 IEDC Annual Conference in Philadelphia, the award honors this virtual organization in category of “Regionalism & Cross-Border Collaboration” in communities with populations of greater than 500,000.

The TechBelt initiative is a network of technology and innovation stakeholders collaborating to accelerate economic growth in northeast Ohio, western Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia – states with contiguous borders and complementary industrial and academic assets.  TechBelt members are broad-based, representing the economic development organizations, foundations, researchers and chambers of commerce within the “mega region.” Continue reading “The TechBelt Initiative Receives Excellence in Economic Development Award from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC)”

Debating the Mortgage Interest Deduction

Mortgage-RateMitt Romney lost the election but some of his fiscal ideas may survive.  Mitt Romney’s comments on an Iowa radio station re-ignited the debate about the mortgage interest deduction (MID) that has been simmering since at least 1984.  Romney’s plan calls for a $17,000 deduction budget that effectively caps and may even kill the MID:

 As an option you could say everybody’s going to get up to a $17,000 deduction. And you could use your charitable deduction, your home mortgage deduction, or others — your health care deduction, and you can fill that bucket, if you will, that $17,000 bucket that way. And higher income people might have a lower number.

The MID inspires deep passions.  It is also not likely to be received by the public with any objectivity.  The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)  released a poll showing that the MID was supported by 77 percent of Republicans, 71 percent of Independents and 71 percent of Democrats.  Real estate lobbyists have been arguing for some time that eliminating the MID while the housing market is weak would further destabilize housing.   However home prices and interest rates are so low right now that the benefit that the deduction provides to buyers has been significantly minimized.  As a result, there are new calls that now is exactly the right time to restructure the deduction. Continue reading “Debating the Mortgage Interest Deduction”

The Best of the Top of the Greatest

Photo-Rustiq-TemplateFor economic and community developers, a new “best of” and “top places” ranking season is underway.  While it may not be as popular as basketball’s March Madness, there is no doubt that economic and community performance rankings attract a lot of attention. They are of great interest to the media, elected officials, the business community and residents at-large.

But rankings are only one part of a very complex economic performance story. Compounding their use and reliability is the fact that not all adopt the most rigorous, relevant or transparent methods.  And positive or negative scores do not impact all business investment decision-making in the same way.
Continue reading “The Best of the Top of the Greatest”

National Fourth Economy Community Index Lists Top 10 Large-Sized Counties for 2013

Fourth Economy Consulting announces the latest release of its national community index, listing top counties from across the nation. The Fourth Economy Index highlights those communities ideally positioned to attract modern investment and managed economic growth within the fourth economy.

PITTSBURGH, PA – The latest release of the “Fourth Economy Community (FEC) Index” was announced today listing the nation’s top 10 large-sized Fourth Economy Communities. These communities are those ideally positioned to attract modern investment and managed economic growth.

The “fourth economy” characterizes the most recent phase of our nation’s economy, reflecting a combination of the previous three to include agrarian, industrial, and technological. This new index is intended to serve as a dashboard for community stakeholders to gauge their capacity to attract and retain modern investment.

“There has never been a more important time for economic and community developers to rethink how we measure economic success,” said Rich Overmoyer, CEO of Fourth Economy Consulting, the economic development firm that created the index in 2011.  “Recent articles in the New York Times and The Atlantic on the use of state incentives to lure big companies reinforces that an outdated model of economic development needs to be evolved to one that considers a broader set of community investment opportunities. The Fourth Economy Index is an attempt to highlight what makes stronger, economically viable communities,” Overmoyer added. Continue reading “National Fourth Economy Community Index Lists Top 10 Large-Sized Counties for 2013”

Marketing Fourth Economy Communities

The release of our latest Fourth Economy Community Index is a good opportunity to reflect on major shifts impacting economic development marketing strategies.  As we research our fourth economy communities, we see common success factors they employ to help attract and retain new investment.  Earlier this month I conducted an economic development marketing training session with economic developers from throughout the eastern U.S. and shared some key trends and lessons learned from both our project experience and through our Fourth Economy Index initiative. Here are some key take-a-ways. Continue reading “Marketing Fourth Economy Communities”

Sacred Cows – The Political Economy of Tax Loopholes

If Social Security is the third rail in American politics, then tax loopholes are the sacred cows and we have a growing herd of tax dodge heifers. Whether you call them loopholes, expenditures, exclusions or deductions often characterize how you feel about them. Nobody likes loopholes, expenditures should be scrutinized, exclusions can be okay, but everyone loves deductions. We tend to think of loopholes as things that other people get and deductions are things we deserve. The Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) has been publishing reports on tax expenditures since the 1970s, so that is what we’ll call them here. The debate on tax expenditures has been simmering for decades but it has attracted renewed attention with the ascendance of Paul Ryan as the Republican Vice Presidential nominee and his call for closing tax loopholes. A lot of attention is focused on “…loopholes that let politically-connected companies avoid paying taxes…” What is also less known is that most tax expenditures go to individuals (Figure 1). From 2001 to 2011, individuals get more than $800 billion in tax breaks compared to just $98 billion for corporations. Continue reading “Sacred Cows – The Political Economy of Tax Loopholes”