State and Local Economic Development Policy
Research Project Guidelines

The purpose of the research project is to enable you to become involved in a single economic development policy and program.  You have two options for your research project.
Option A, an intensive literature review of a single policy issue
Option B, an analysis of an economic development initiative – either a specific project or program

For example, you could either analyze the economic development potential of building new sports stadiums or the economic development impact of the new Camden Yards baseball stadium.

Option A- literature review of a single policy issue
Your boss has just read an article about a new economic development program (see list below) and how well it is working in Fredonia.  She wants you to provide him with a policy memorandum based upon an intensive literature review of similar programs in other areas (15 articles or books is the amount of research which will make her feel comfortable) which informs her about the key issues in implementing and evaluating a program in her state/town as well as a web page so that citizens are also aware of all the key issues.  Your memorandum and web page should address the following questions:

Background & History of the Concept
              What is the program?
              What are the origins of the  concept?
              How and where has the concept been applied in the U.S.?
Information about State & Local  Programs
              Characteristics and Provisions of State & Local Programs
              Review, Issues and Challenges of State & Local Programs
              Relationship of the program to economic development
              Links to State & Local Program Sites
Overview of the Federal Initiatives (if applicable)
The Future of the Concept
More Concept Information and Resources
              Internet Resources and Links
              Print Resources
 

Option B-- an analysis of a specific economic development initiative
For this project, you will:
1) identify an economic development initiative – either a specific project or program,
2) gather materials (including any legislative requirements that are relevant), and
3) interview (by phone or in person) program or project personnel about the implementation of the economic development initiative, its outcomes (with supporting evidence), current status and future prospects.

In your report, it would be helpful to have the following information (although your report need not be limited to the following):
q Larger background for your selected economic development initiative (drawing from the literature about that initiative)
q Identification and description of the economic development initiative, including some statement of why it is a good example/case study
q Research process (and materials) that you used in your study of this initiative
q History of the economic development initiative  – origins, support, related requirements (including legislated).
q Key players involved
q Costs involved
q Implementation process, current status of the economic development initiative.
q Analysis. This section should include a thorough analysis of how well the economic development initiative is working.  Here, I expect that you will draw from your expertise on that type of project or program, including your knowledge of that initiative in other areas. Evidence and specific data (qualitative and quantitative) should be included to substantiate your findings.

Finally, the following guidelines should assist you in your selection of an economic development initiative and your research process.

Guideline # 1
Selection of your project should be based on a “good example of an economic development initiative.” This means that there is sufficient information available for you to examine, and that the organization is willing to talk with you.

Guideline # 2
Your case study may illustrate a particularly successful economic development initiative, or one that has not worked so well.  Your task will be to document and describe its successes and failures.

Guideline #3
Although there is no hardfast rule, you will likely have better luck selecting an initiative that is somewhat established – in other words has been in place for at least a few years.  Keep in mind the long term nature of the actual outcomes of many economic development programs. Remember, however, that some initiatives began as pilot processes and may actually be older than they appear.  The rule here is that you want to have enough in place for you to look at!
 

Guideline #4
Plan ahead for data and information collection. As you think about the information that you will need to distill from materials and agency personnel, please keep in mind the recommended items to be included in your final report.  This means that you should map out your plan, including the themes that you will address in your conversation with agency personnel (which will help you to formulate your semi-structured research questions.)  Think about what sort of data would be useful to you (are there any existing databases that you could/should use?)
 

Potential Economic Development Paper Topics
Here is a list of 36 topics, although it is by no means exhaustive

Sports stadiums
Casino gaming
Native American gaming
Tax-incremental financing
Convention stadiums
Business incubators
High technology research parks
State venture capital funds
Community development
Brownfield strategies
Business Improvement Districts
Inner city revitalization
Employee ownership
Enterprise Zones
Research parks
Eco-industrial parks
Technology transfer
Manufacturing extension partnerships
Microenterprise Programs
Technology Transfer
Business Assistance Programs
Entrepreneurship Strategies
Business Incubators
Export Promotion Programs
Brownfield Redevelopment Strategies
Employee Ownership Programs
Military Base Conversions
Empowerment and Enterprise Zones
Industry Cluster Policies
Historic Preservation
University-Business Linkages
Research Parks
Human capital strategies
Prisons as an economic development strategy
Arts and culture development strategy
Living wage initiatives
Rural development