Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Excellence in Economic Development Planning Award

Deadline: February 12, 2010

We invite you to submit an application for the annual Excellence in Economic Development Planning award from the APA Economic Development Division (EDD). This is a $1,000 award to a community that shows innovation and success with an economic development plan or project.

The formal presentation will be at the annual APA conference in New Orleans, late afternoon Monday, April 12th at the EDD Business Meeting. The Division will also help with preparing a press release for the winning community and for Planning magazine, and will announce the winner in the News & Views Division newsletter that is sent out to some 1,000 organizations throughout North America. If submitting hard copies, please send three copies of everything for distribution to the committee.

Applications can be submitted by e-mail to the Chair of the Award Committee:

Robert M. Lewis, AICP
Development Strategies, Inc.
10 South Broadway, Suite 1500
St. Louis, MO 63102
314-421-2800 ext 18

There is no formal application form. Please, however, follow these guidelines.

Narrative Description of the Plan or Project

Description (up to 250 words) of the plan or project showing that the project fits the following definitions:

  • Economic Development: The creation of new employment and wealth-generating activities through the mobilization of human, financial, physical, and natural resources.
  • Economic Development Planning: A series of deliberate activities leading to initiatives that enhance a locality's, state's, or region's economic opportunities and quality of life.

Attachment I: Nominee's Fulfillment of Award Criteria

For each of the following criteria, provide up to a 50 to 100-word description of the project. The entire attachment (all six criteria) should be no more than two pages (500 words).

  • Originality: Unique concept or appreciable refinement of existing techniques or procedures.
  • Transferability: Potential application to other areas or projects.
  • Quality: Excellence of thought, analysis, writing, graphics, and professional character of the presentation.
  • Implementation & Results: Effectiveness of work proposals that have been carried out or show the promise of being carried out.
  • Comprehensiveness: Submittal demonstrates a thorough and in-depth approach.
  • Contribution to Community: Demonstrates application to community needs and desires.

Attachment II (Optional): Supporting Materials

Applicants may provide news clippings, brochures, slides, videos, etc. If items need to be returned, please clearly mark them as such.

For information on past award winners: http://www.planning.org/divisions/economic/awards/

Monday, November 16, 2009

Dr. Homer Hoyt: Planning's Unsung Hero

Jane Jacobs. Daniel Burnham. Lewis Mumford. James Rouse. While not all planners, these names are among those select few readily recalled by most planners when asked to identify our profession's most important progenitors. Dr. Homer Hoyt is one often overlooked individual whose name should be added to this list.

In celebration of National Community Plann
ing Month in October, Dr. Terry Holzheimer, Director of Arlington Economic Development in Arlington, VA, and former Economic Development Division Chair, made a community presentation about the life and work of Dr. Homer Hoyt. I had the pleasure of attending the lecture, which was also attended by Dr. Hoyt's son, Michael. While Dr. Hoyt was a University of Chicago trained economist, life-long real estate investor and not a planner, he pioneered many important theories and tools that in common use by planners today.

Dr. Terry Holzheimer presenting The Life and Work of Homer Hoyt.

Dr. Hoyt, born in 1895 to a college-educated single mother, grew up in less than secure circumstances in rural and poor areas in the present-day Kansas City region. Although he experienced difficult circumstances in childhood, his mother instilled in him the independence, a strong work ethic and an understanding of the value of education. Dr. Hoyt earned a BA and MA from the University of Kansas at age 18, and four years later completed a law degree at the University of Chicago. In his twenties he worked at for short periods at several firms, and taught law. During the 1920s Dr. Hoyt moved to Chicago to invest in real estate to take advantage of the city's booming real estate market, from this point forward Dr. Hoyt remained an active investor in real estate for the rest of his life.

Dr. Hoyt's personal experience with real estate losses following the stock market crash of 1929 and the subsequent Great Depression, raised his interest in how real estate values related to economic cycles. He became a doctoral student in land economics at the University of Chicago, and in his dissertation focused on examining Chicago's real estate values through its past five economic boom and bust cycles. (His dissertation was published in 1933 as One Hundred Years of Land Values in Chicago). Dr. Hoyt's dissertation research at the University of Chicago served as the catalyst for a lifetime of critical discoveries in planning and real estate economics. From 1934-1940 Dr. Hoyt worked for the Federal Housing Administration, where he developed a methodology to asses which areas of cities were the best for investment by mapping a city's housing stock using various socio-economic indicators (housing age/value, race of tenants, owner occupancy, overcrowding etc.). These exercises led to his development of Sector Theory, sometimes called the Hoyt model, which postulates that urban growth occurs along transportation arteries, and that zones are not rigid in form and can penetrate one another.

All planners are al
so familiar with another Dr. Hoyt innovation, Economic Base Theory. Once Dr. Hoyt developed a better understanding of how cities grew, he wanted to understand why they grew. He theorized that regional economic growth was dependent upon the regional population's ability to produce more than then can consume, that is the health of a region's export-based industries. Hoyt realized that demand for land (and thus land values), was dependent upon the economic strength and sustainability of a regional economy.

While Dr. Hoyt's early career was spent examining cities in the pre-World War II era, he proved very perceptive about the changes in land values that would occur due to the mass suburbanization that occurred after the War. In the late 1940s Dr. Hoyt became turned his attention to suburbanization and suburban shopping centers, developing a hierarchy of shopping centers that is still used today. He successfully invested in once regionally peripheral lands that became our nation's first suburbs in the post War era. He founded a consulting firm, Homer Hoyt Associates, in 1951 to provide professional research services to real estate investors, at a time when such services were really first emerging. In his suburban shopping center and other post War work, he developed modern real estate market analysis by applying measures of supply and demand to individual sites or markets.

Dr. Hoyt's contributions to planning knowledge form an important basis for much of our economic development planning work today. He had an amazing career that incorporated both work as a real estate consultant and investor and academia. One aspect of his life's work that I find particularly amazing is simply how much legwork he had to put into his getting his data and how he translated his data into practical and important theoretical insights. I certainly take for granted the ease of accessing quantitative, current and historical socio-economic data, the readily available GIS tools planners use to understand our environment. At the time when Dr. Hoyt began his career good quantitative data wasn't just a click away, and he actually pioneered the idea of representing data geographically, with maps! While working on his Ph.D. dissertation he spent hours in the Cook County Assessor's Office pulling data together from records the likes of which we can only imagine. (There was an additional reward for these efforts however, as according to his son Michael, Dr. Hoyt met his wife at the Cook County's Assessor's Office).

Reflecting on Dr. Hoyt's work, my thoughts turn to today's planning innovations, and how planning practitioners are currently contributing to our broader understanding of our field. In recent months I've begun learning about emerging technologies that have the potential to transform planning practice. Perhaps some these tools will help us achieve a new understanding of the 21st century city and its economic base.

How do you see the relationship between emerging technologies, planning practice and planning theory today?

Source: Holzheimer, T. (2009). The Work and Life of Homer Hoyt. Presentation available on the web at:

Further Reading:

Beauregard, R. (2007). More Than Sector Theory: Homer Hoyt's Contributions to Planning Knowledge. Journal of Planning History, 6(3), 248-271.

Homer Hoyt Institute

Strategic Thinking with Maury Seldin, Homer Hoyt Institute blog.

Wikipedia article (We can improve upon this!): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homer_Hoyt

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Rethinking New York's Empire Zones

Fortunately, all economic development initiatives are not run like New York State’s Empire Zones program. A 2004 report of The Office of the New York State Comptroller titled The Effectiveness of Empire Zones found that none of the zones investigated conducted an accurate cost-benefit analysis. The comptroller did estimate that in 2004 the Empire Zones program would cost the state $291 million dollars in lost revenue.

Proponents of the program could argue that an annual price tag of $291 million is adequate given the benefits yielded by the program. But the program has failed to deliver on its promise of economic vitality in distressed areas.

The Comptrollers report claims that:

• Less than one third of businesses met or exceeded their projected job creation goals.
• Thirty-two businesses admitted receiving benefits that exceeded the benefits bestowed upon the community by the existence of the business. The surplus is estimated at $112,500 per business.
• Businesses are only required to provide projected job creation numbers, and there is not an effective way in which to collect actual data of created jobs.
• The creation of Empire Zones is an incredibly political process, and thus zones are often created in non-blighted areas as political favors.

Recently there have been changes to the program. In April 2008 the state mandated that businesses receiving benefits must re-register to ensure that all those with a reduced tax burden deserve the lightened load. At a time when New York is facing massive budget cuts, it is important to investigate the effectiveness of the Empire Zones program. It is imperative to assess the costs and the benefits, and to assess how much of a firms locational decision is based upon such tax incentives. After all, if many states around the nation are offering similar economic benefits, which they are, then this undercuts the benefits offered by New York, and may merely amount to millions of dollars in lost tax revenue. Promises of ‘job creation’ and ‘localized economic vitality’ must be critically examined with sound data in order to better gauge the effects of this expensive economic development strategy.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Economic Development Division Graduate Scholarship

Its that time again!

Economic Development Division Graduate Scholarship
*Deadline:* February 12, 2010

Master's level students from PAB-accredited planning departments<http://www.planningaccreditationboard.org/index.php?id=30>across the U.S. may apply. The $1,000 scholarship is awarded on the basis of a letter of recommendation from a full-time faculty member and an original paper or work having to do with a substantive and relevant topic related to economic development and planning. We prefer an article length or shorter paper submitted (not a thesis, although a shorter paper developed from the thesis is acceptable) of 2,000 to 2,500 words.

The application should be addressed to:

John Provo, Ph.D.
Associate Director
Office of Economic Development (0373)
Outreach and International Affairs
Virginia Tech
702 University City Blvd.
Blacksburg, VA 24061

The scholarship will be presented at the APA Conference in New Orleans in April, 2010 and the paper will be published in EDD’s *News & Views*.

The 2009 EDD Scholarship award of $1,000 went to *Lingwen Zheng* for her paper entitled "Trapped in the Race to the Bottom: Who is Using Business Incentives Now?"
This paper appears in the spring 2009 edition of *News & Views*.

Honorable mentions went to Ann Thompson for "Alexandria's Associations: Spontaneous Grouping or Economic Cluster? and Jessica Sheldon for "Going Uptown in Downtown Oakland: Market Rate Housing as an Economic Development Tool."

Previous award winners:

Monday, November 9, 2009

APA EDD Chair Bill Anderson, others on Planning's Past and Future

Streetsblog San Francisco covered a panel discussion held by the San Francisco Planning Department and the San Francisco Planning + Urban Research Association on the political challenges facing planners. EDD's Chair and San Diego Director of City Planning and Community Investment Bill Anderson participated in the discussion, which highlighted the impact of planning's past mistakes on today's planners. Bill was quoted in Streetsblog SF:

"I'd have to say, especially in California, unfortunately, the field has evolved into focusing on preventing bad things from happening instead of making good things happen," said Bill Anderson, San Diego's planning head.

Read the entire article at: Streetsblog SF