The cities of Lowell and New Bedford in Massachusetts, Jamestown in New York, and McKeesport in Pennsylvania have all undergone years of adversity and decline, their economic bases having been badly damaged by structural changes in the national economy, particularly in the manufacturing sector. In situations like these, can local development efforts make a difference? Ross Gittell answers in the affirmative. This interdisciplinary work focuses on comparative case studies of the four cities. The book reveals how public, private, and community-based local economic development initiatives affect local economic performance: what works and what does not work. City leaders and institutions can help reorganize and "reshuffle" local resources, with results that include increased investment, greater effort by local individuals and institutions, more cooperation among different development interests, and improvement in city economic positioning relative to the regional economy and local development cycles. Gittell emphasizes the possibility of shifting from a "zero-sum game" (attracting jobs from elsewhere) toward the goal of converting underutilized local resources to higher-value uses through alternative forms of economic and political organization.
Originally published in 1992.
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"Gittell's book is organized around a careful analysis of four small "Rustbelt" cities that have borne the brunt of the economic and social stresses accompanying the nation's shift from an industrial to a postindustrial economy over the past quarter century . . . This book is a very useful review of current trends and makes a unique contribution to the literature. The work is extremely well documented and its exhaustive bibliography is quite up-to-date."--Choice
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