Fall 2013 - 63455 - PA680PA - Policy Research Project | LBJ School of Public Affairs | The University of Texas at Austin

Fall 2013 - 63455 - PA680PA - Policy Research Project

Regional Competitiveness: Economic Development Initiatives of County Government

The more than 3000 county governments in the US occupy a unique position in the country’s governmental structure. The authority and functions assigned to counties by state government differ markedly. Yet as the only form of local government that covers the entire national geography, counties face a wide range policy challenges. The National Association of Counties (NACo) has contracted with the LBJ School for Policy Research Project (PRP) to develop a report on “Why Counties Matters: Economic Development” for its “Research Papers Series.”  As the nation’s principal of country governments, NACo monitors the effectiveness and innovative approaches found in counties and represents the interests of counties with the federal government. The report will provide an overview of the economic development challenges faced by county government, the resources devoted to economic development strategies and programs, and case studies of a range of programs adopted by county government. A survey, conducted in collaboration with NACo, of a large sample of counties to identify the range and intensity of utilization of different types of economic development initiatives will be conducted. Based on these results a sample of economic development initiatives will be examined, using a common framework, through collection of information from public sources and through semi-structured interviews utilized information will be collected on such dimensions as the program objectives and design, rationale for the approach adopted, resources devoted to the initiative, measurement and assessment of impacts, important intergovernmental elements of the program. The deadline for delivery the report to NACo will be mid-May, 2014.

Project directors
Robert H. Wilson is the Mike Hogg Professor of Urban Policy. Among his publications are Metropolitan Governance in the Federalist America (University of Notre Dame Press, 2012). He has led Policy Research Projects on local government issues including Local Initiatives in Growth Management and Open Space Preservation: A National Study; State and Local Government Initiatives for Growth Management.

Brian Kelsey is an economic development consultant and lecturer at The University of Texas at Austin, where he teaches a course on economic development and serves as a fellow at the LBJ’s Center for Politics and Governance. His firm, Civic Analytics, specializes in economic and labor market research for private and public sector clients. Kelsey served as a senior advisor at the U.S. Economic Development Administration and was awarded the U.S. Department of Commerce Gold Medal for creating an “unprecedented platform for coordinating Federal economic development efforts.” He’s co-author of Measuring Regional Innovation with Randall Kempner.

SRH 3.216/219