Jonathan Morgan is a School of Government faculty member.
This is a continuation of the series of blog posts focused on “What Works” in economic development. Two previous posts (Part I, Part II) identified some effective strategies for incubating small start-up businesses. This post highlights a recent study that offers insight into what communities can do to revitalize older suburban areas that are experiencing chronic economic and social distress.
The findings are presented in a report titled “Revitalizing Distressed Older Suburbs” that was prepared by participating researchers involved in the What Works Collaborative, which is funded by several foundations interested in promoting evidence-based housing and urban policy in the U.S. The researchers conducted in-depth case studies of four distressed suburban areas with majority African American populations:
- East Cleveland, Ohio (pop. 17K)
- Inkster, Michigan (suburb of Detroit; pop. 25K)
- Chester, Pennsylvania (midway between Philadelphia and Wilmington, DE; pop. 34K)
- Prichard, Alabama (suburb of Mobile; pop. 23K)
Once prosperous and vibrant, all four of these suburban cities now suffer from high poverty, declining employment, fiscal pressures, low-performing schools, sub-standard housing, and shrinking populations.
The report discusses the lessons learned from the case study research related to the following issues and their roles in revitalizing older distressed suburbs:
- housing and community development
- concentrated poverty
- trust in government
- anchor institutions
- local government capacity
- regional collaboration
- state programs