by Bruce Katz, Colin Higgins, and Steven Gu · September 15
Five Hard Questions for Build Back Better Applicants

The announcement of the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) $1 billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge (BBBRC) has created a scramble not seen since the 2017 competition for Amazon’s HQ2.

While the Amazon HQ2 competition focused on winning the physical presence of a single (very large) employer in a single location, the BBBRC seeks to strengthen a wide range of industry clusters, spanning healthcare, advanced manufacturing, AI, clean energy, ag-tech, and more, across dozens of regions and equip a geographically diverse set of communities to have dynamic and resilient local economies. Ultimately, 20 to 30 regions will each receive between $25 million and $100 million to execute on economic development strategies to grow industry clusters.

by Bruce Katz, Michael Tolan, Colin Higgins, and Karyn Bruggeman · September 1
Local Fiscal Relief: Emerging Models and Next Steps for an Inclusive Local Recovery

In July, we wrote a memo detailing how states are spending their State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFR funds). Here we follow-up on this piece by examining how cities are using these flexible funds. This newsletter focuses on three areas where City Halls are moving forward with their SLFR funds:

  1. A description of the different approaches that cities are taking to allocate funds;
  2. An overview of transparency and documentation of ARPA flexible funds; and
  3. A look into trends around timelines of city appropriations and how ARPA funding has fit into the traditional budget cycles of cities.
by Bruce Katz and Colin Higgins · August 20
An Investment Playbook Grows in Buffalo

With enactment of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, the recent bipartisan infrastructure deal and Congressional movement on innovation and workforce funding, it is clear that the federal government is actively engaging in an unprecedented multi-act effort to spur an equitable economic recovery. The combination of new resources, the Biden Administration’s commitment to high-poverty “qualified census tracts,” and existing federal programs and tax incentives raises the prospect of creating a new practice of Community Wealth that systematically regenerates disinvested neighborhoods and lifts disadvantaged residents by upgrading skills, growing entrepreneurs, increasing incomes and building assets.

by Bruce Katz, Karyn Bruggeman and Colin Higgins · August 12
The American Rescue Plan’s Impact on Philadelphia & Lessons for Infrastructure

In April 2021, the Nowak Metro Finance Lab at Drexel University and Accelerator for America released the Federal Investment Guide to the American Rescue Plan. The guide broke down the Biden Administration’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief package from a “bottom-up” perspective. The guide summarized how funding would flow to over 84 individual programs, originating from 19 federal agencies and through seven different distribution channels.

Today, we’re revisiting our analysis of the American Rescue plan (“ARPA”) and presenting a complementary portrait of how ARPA funds have flowed downward to a single geography, Philadelphia, the home of the Nowak Metro Finance Lab. This new analysis can be found in our new report, released this week, “Localizing and Sequencing the American Rescue Plan Act: Estimating the Impact in Philadelphia.”

by Bruce Katz, Ian O’Grady, Michael Tolan, Colin Higgins · July 29
Feds Design, States Distribute, Locals Deliver: Reverse Engineering ARPA for Impact

Regular readers of New Localism will know that we have spent the better part of 2021 focusing extensively on two topics: (1) how local leaders can strategically deploy recovery funds, and; (2) how to drive an inclusive small business recovery. Our argument here, based on a new white paper and research memo we’ve developed over the past month, is that to do both these things well local leaders across sectors must engage their state governments now (and visa versa).

The driver of this engagement should be two relatively flexible pieces of funding in the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) that states are receiving (both administered by the U.S. Treasury): the much discussed $350 billion State and Local Fiscal Relief Fund (SLFRF) and the much less discussed, but crucial, $10 billion State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI).

by Bruce Katz and Jessica A. Lee · July 14
Meet Me in St. Louis

Turns out a global pandemic can be a good time for a metropolis to plan for its future.

In 2020, amidst an unprecedented year of national crisis and racial reckoning, business and civic leaders in the St. Louis metro began the hard work of devising a new approach to economic growth in the region. Against a backdrop of decades-long economic underperformance, population stagnation and racial division, these leaders commissioned New Localism Associates to craft a 10-year plan that combined growth in quality jobs and heightened global relevance with a steadfast and broad-based commitment to inclusive growth and racial equity. They also convinced Mark Wrighton, the former Chancellor of Washington University, to lead a local team of diverse, reflective stakeholders to ensure that the work was fully grounded in local knowledge.

by Bruce Katz, Keith Bethel, Jamarah Hayner, Rick Jacobs, Colin Higgins and Andrew Petrisin · June 9
How Federal Infrastructure Spending Can Close the Racial Wealth Gap

Last week, in Tulsa, the Biden Administration announced a raft of steps they will take to close our country’s widening racial wealth gap. Central to the Administration’s wealth-building agenda are twin executive branch actions to reduce discrimination in home appraisals and to increase the targets for direct federal procurement from small and disadvantaged businesses (DBEs) by 50%, or $100 billion, over 5 years. These are laudable, bold and necessary moves.

by Bruce Katz and Colin Higgins · May 21
Financing the Inclusive City Post Pandemic: Lessons from Jane Jacobs

With the reopening of the United States fully underway and the Biden Administration aggressively pursuing seismic investments in economic and energy restructuring, it is now urgent to think clearly about how to design and deliver an inclusive recovery. To that end, we have been looking for guidance from Jane Jacobs by rereading portions of her masterpiece The Death and Life of Great American Cities (originally published in 1961) as well as her lesser known but equally prescient and idiosyncratic, The Economy of Cities (published in 1969).

by Bruce Katz, Ross Baird, Colin Higgins, Maegan Moore and Ian O’Grady · May 7
Bridging Wall Street and Main Street: Innovative Ways to Support Small Businesses

While Wall Street is booming, Main Street in America is just barely scraping by after a year of lockdowns and suppressed demand. According to estimates from Opportunity Insights, the number of small businesses currently open across the country has decreased by 32.2% compared to before the pandemic. In order for entrepreneurs and businesses to recover — and to have a recovery that provides fair opportunity for all — we need innovation in how we finance our country’s local businesses.

by Bruce Katz, Kian Kamas and Luise Noring · April 30
Tulsa and the Remaking of Urban Governance

A year ago, we wrote about how a period defined by a global pandemic, economic contraction and racial reckoning might become a catalyst for institutional transformation in cities. These profound events have simultaneously exacerbated inequities in our cities and revealed the inadequacies of the current architecture of governance within and across cities. Advancing shared prosperity and racial equity requires structural reform, which even a torrent of federal resources cannot address.