Embedding Equity Into Economic Development

Guest Blog by Sarah Treuhaft, Director of Equitable Growth Initiatives, PolicyLink

Treuhaft-Inequit-BlogIt is another summer in which America’s deep racial fault lines are being painfully exposed. Following the horrific violence in Baton Rouge, Falcon Heights, and Dallas, in a July 8 poll seven in ten Americans said race relations are “generally bad.” A National League of cities analysis of one hundred “state of the city” speeches from 2016 found that mayors increasingly view racism and inequities as major threats to progress in their cities.
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48 Hours in Pittsburgh with the Consulate General of Canada

Bernard-Blog-20160405To many Americans, Canada is our friendly neighbor to the north, known for an affable attitude, a passion for pucks and a penchant for strong beer.  What is perhaps less known is how critical trade with Canada is to the economy of the United States.  Consider:

  • Nearly 9 million U.S. jobs depend on trade and investment with Canada
  • Canada is the top export destination for 35 states
  • Canada is the number one supplier of crude oil, refined petroleum products, natural gas,
    and electricity to the U.S. as well as a
    leading supplier of uranium
  • 400,000 people cross the Canada–U.S. border daily

Source: http://can-am.gc.ca/can-am/index.aspx?lang=eng

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Big Visions Get Big Dollars in Indiana

IndianaBlogImageOn Tuesday, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) announced $126 million in state matching funds to support three regions in pursuing their visions for growth. The Regional Cities Initiative was developed based on a study of regions that have experienced transformational growth, performed last year by Fourth Economy, and is being funded by a tax amnesty program. Tuesday’s announcement was the culmination of months of planning on the part of Indiana’s regions, and Fourth Economy was fortunate enough to facilitate and advise on the strategy for two of the winning regions in those efforts – Northeast Indiana (home to Fort Wayne) and Michiana (home to South Bend). Here are a few lessons learned from our work helping multi-county, cross-sector partnerships identify and prioritize quality-of-life investments meant to attract and retain population.
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National Fourth Economy Community Index Lists Top Ten Large-Sized Counties


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 edition of the Fourth Economy Community Index was announced today, recognizing the top ten large-sized Fourth Economy Communities. These communities—with populations between 150,000 and 499,999—were selected because they represent regions that are poised to achieve sustainable economic growth while attracting people and investment.

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Pittsburgh’s Next Opportunity

Pittsburghs-Next-OpportunityComeback City. Best Place to Live. Best to Visit…It’s a good feeling when your hometown receives so much attention. Living in Pittsburgh inspires a sense of pride and as I travel around the country, I am always happy to tell people about the highlights of our region’s transformation. That travel though has also opened my eyes to the fact that we are not doing enough to retain those titles. There are issues in our community, our economy and our civic and social infrastructure that must be addressed if we want to wear the badge of pride into the next decade. Continue reading “Pittsburgh’s Next Opportunity”

9 Themes Identified in Transformed Regional Cities


After hundreds of hours speaking with the leaders of America’s transformed cities, analyzing data until our eyes crossed and summarizing all of our findings in an action oriented report, I am ready to provide you with the cliff notes. To summarize,  we found that there are nine key themes to consider if you are looking to transform your community.

But first… Continue reading “9 Themes Identified in Transformed Regional Cities”

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”

Numbers Behind the News: The Fountain of Youth

William Frey of The Brookings Institution analyzed new Census data to identify the places that are attracting young people.   Keep in mind that young people are not moving in the numbers they once did, but the ones who do are choosing places that “have a certain vibe—college towns, high-tech centers, and so-called ‘cool cities’.

Top Region’s for Young Migrants (Employment growth Sep 2010 – Sep 2011)

  • Denver (0.4%)
  • Houston (2.6%)
  • Dallas (2.5%)
  • Seattle (1.6%)
  • Austin (2.2%)
  • Washington D.C. (0.3)
  • Portland (1.3%)

Older movers are choosing places like Phoenix, AZ and Riverside, CA, once booming regions where the bloom has faded but not disappeared.  It is not clear if this signals a long term trend in the making.  Frey’s data compares the trend from 2005-2007 to 2008-2010 so you can’t attribute too much to such limited data.  However, the gains made in attracting young movers can have long term payoff as they become adults and put down more roots in the community.

Another interesting element is that two of the cities, Denver and Washington, D.C. have had lower job growth than the national average (1.2%) from Sep 2010 to Sep 2011.  What attracts young people to these places must be something more than short-term or cyclical opportunities.  It is either that, or young people are making bad decisions.




4 Books for the Fourth Economy


With the days getting shorter and the nights chillier, here are four great “fireplace” reads in the fourth economy.

First up, two books from Daniel H. PinkA Whole New Mind: Moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age and Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.  In both books Pink offers his take on how the modern talent base thinks and what motivates the knowledge worker.  His insights provide an important reference for community and economic development specialists that can greatly guide their strategic plans.

The next book tackles the big question (which may explain its long title) of what attracts some people to certain communities across our great country.  In Life 2.0: How People Across America Are Transforming Their Lives by Finding the Where of their Happiness, Rich Karlgaard shares his observations gained while piloting a single engine airplane across the country.  What can we learn from that?  He interviews highly successful entrepreneurs, venture capitalist, technology pioneers and global policy analysis.  The stories they told as to where and why they live where they do will likely have a direct impact into how communities are position and prepare for future growth.

Finally, on the more ethereal side of life is The Cathedral Within by Bill Shore.  This book has been on my shelves for several years.  Shore takes a look back to the ancient cathedral builders, when a single construction project spanned many generations of workers.  Most knew they would never live to see its completion, yet they remained engaged and inspired by the artistry and permanence of the creation.  What can the modern business and political climate learn from that experience?  How can we build cathedrals in our own communities? – Just a few of the questions addressed on the pages.

The three themes in these books are critical to the fourth economy.  Especially in light of the extreme political and economic turmoil the world is facing.  Collaboration, social enterprise, long-term vision and innovation will remain the keys to our success.  Stay warm and enjoy the reads.


Think Water!

Water is vital to life.  We simply cannot live without it.  We have no substitutes for it.   Without a minimum intake of water, we die.  The minimum water requirement is estimated at 20 litres per day for drinking plus another 30 litres for bathing and drinking, located within 1 km of the household.  The water required to produce our food, pushes the consumption of water even higher. 3,500 litres are needed to produce enough food for a daily minimum of 3,000 calories.

Water is renewable, but it can be ruined.  We need to conserve and protect this vital resource or we will be without.  Across the world, access to reliable supplies of water that a person can drink without getting sick currently falls short 300 billion cubic meters, roughly the equivalent of 120 million olympic swimming pools.

More businesses and regions are paying attention but the big challenge is monetizing something that people think of as free.  The growth of the bottled water industry has started to change that, but the change has not changed thinking or behavior in water use.  At some point, though the lack of potable water (even in the face of abundant non-potable water) will force change.  The businesses and regions that are ahead of this curve will have a sustainable competitive advantage.