6 Rules for Better, More Inclusive Economic Development in Cities

Until recently, there was a growing understanding among city-builders and economic developers that handing over taxpayer-funded incentives to large corporations is wasteful and ineffective. That is, until Amazon’s HQ2 search threw a wrench in that, bringing real pressure from business and political leaders to compete for the big prize.

In more than three decades, I have never seen a setback for economic development like HQ2. I have heard from dozens of professionals in the field who feel the HQ2 debacle knocked it badly off course.

What the backlash to the HQ2 process—and Amazon’s pullout from New York City in the wake of pressure from politicians and activists—show beyond a shadow of a doubt is that we need to put incentives behind us. But that’s just one of six steps we must take to get urban economic development back on track, outlined below.

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