Economic Development Leadership

City leaders play a key role in economic development by establishing a locally-based vision and implementing this vision with coordinated public policies, strategic partnerships, supportive infrastructure and an efficient regulatory environment. To help local leaders build their economic development leadership capacity, NLC offers research on city economic conditions and resources on retail and downtown redevelopment, business attraction and retention, and public-private partnerships and planning.

    The Role of Local Elected Officials in Economic Development | 10 Things You Should Know
    This report is the result of a partnership between the National League of Cities Center for Research and Innovation and the International Economic Development Council (IEDC).

    Downtown USA: Chelsea's Path to a Vibrant Downtown
    This case study explores how Chelsea, Michigan, through strong leadership and a focus on attracting and growing small businesses, has evolved into a destination city with a blooming restaurant scene, independent retailers, and events that draw visitors into the city’s core.

    2013 Local Economic Conditions Survey (April 2013)
    According to the nation’s city officials, the performance of local, regional and state economies have improved over the past year.  Despite improvements, cities are still struggling in significant ways, signaling that growth is not keeping pace at a level that is needed for a sustained recovery. 

    Regional Cooperation Agreements in Economic Development (December 2012)
    This City Practice Brief highlights four agreements operating in Ohio's Montgomery and Cuyahoga Counties, the Metro Denver region, and California's East Bay. It closes with some key take-aways to consider when developing an agreement for your own region.

    Local Leadership for Job Creation and Economic Growth: Economic Development Trends (December 2011)
    The Economic Development program at NLC explores, shares and connects city leaders with various paths to economic development "success." By examining economic development in a local context, local leaders and economic development officials can enrich their capacity to affect economic change.

    Public Private Partnerships its Benefits and Pitfalls (September 2010)
    As the recession continues and budget challenges worsen, cities across the country are increasingly considering collaborations with the private sector to preserve services and development in their communities.  This webcast, produced with the support of International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), focuses on the structure, benefits, potential pitfalls and strategies of public-private partnerships.

    Privatizing Municipal Services (September 2010)
    With constrained municipal resources, local governments are exploring new ways to reduce costs and infuse innovation by privatizing municipal services.  While privatization can be an effective management and service delivery tool, it remains a complicated and controversial process. This NLC Municipal Action Guide explores the issues of privatization by providing pros and cons, actions steps, and city examples.

    The Role of Local Elected Officials in Economic Development: 10 Things You Should Know (June 2010)
    This report identifies fundamental ways elected officials can become informed leaders and strategic decision-makers in economic development.  Understanding local economic strengths and weaknesses in a regional context; establishing a vision and goals; and working with businesses, staff and stakeholders are some of the topics covered. 

    State of America's Cities Survey on Jobs and the Economy (May 2010)
    The annual State of America's Cities Survey finds that despite upticks in some measures of national economic recovery, data indicates that declining fiscal and economic conditions persist in America's cities.  

    State of America's Cities 2009: Local Retail Slowdown (March 2009)
    The annual State of America's Cities Survey finds that city officials around the country are reporting declining retail sales, increases in retail store closings in their communities, and that locally owned retailers on main street are particularly vulnerable. 

    City Developer Relations: Working Together Toward Successful Redevelopment (November 2008)
    Both city officials and developers express frustration when working together on redevelopment projects. This Municipal Action Guide offers a starting point to simplify the process, by presenting a conversation between a city official and developer with corresponding city examples on four key themes: public benefits; the local development review process; project selection; and community visioning.

    Retail Redevelopment (May 2008)
    Cities across the country have redeveloped their abandoned regional malls, poorly maintained strip centers, and other retail spaces into community assets.  This City Practice Brief offers examples of projects that suburban cities have undertaken.