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Nowak Lab Newsletters

Linked below are Nowak Metro Finance Lab newsletters, shared biweekly by Bruce Katz.

 

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Is Workforce Housing the New Economic Development? - August 19, 2022

It is no secret that the country’s housing market is suffering from an acute supply and demand imbalance. Supply has lagged with decades of under-building adding up to a severe shortage. Years of latent, suppressed demand have been released by healthier consumer financials and remote work flexibility. While the Federal Reserve has temporarily poured cold water on some demand segments by increasing mortgage rates at record pace, our long-term issues won’t be solved without generating more units to meet growing housing needs. Read more...

What Follows Infrastructure Spending? - July 28, 2022

As the implementation of the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act picks up steam, cities, counties and states are scrambling to identify projects that can deliver a new vision of mobility, connectivity, sustainability and quality placemaking. Read more...

Erie Organizes (Again) for Success - July 14, 2022

Erie, Pennsylvania is on a roll. Like many communities in the Midwest, this city and county experienced the harsh effects of deindustrialization, decline and disinvestment. Over the past decade, however, a group of dedicated local government, corporate, university and civic leaders, spurred by Erie Insurance Company’s growth and investment, has begun to build the city back. There is no better evidence of this fact than a substantial recent development: today, Erie has one of the most ambitious Investment Playbooks in the country and a bold new governance model to ensure its sound implementation. Read more...

Supply Chain Finance: Innovations for Supporting Inclusive Entrepreneurship - June 17, 2022

A shift to a more inclusive economy requires financial innovation and new tools to reach more entrepreneurs excluded from current capital products. This is the basis of the Innovative Finance Project, announced last spring, a partnership between the Nowak Metro Finance Lab and Blueprint Local funded by the US Economic Development Administration to identify and scale innovative methods of small business finance. This work is more critical than ever with interest rates rising, an influx of investors targeting Black and Brown neighborhoods, and more public dollars for transformative small business investment soon set to flow. Read more...

Unlocking the Procurement Economy - May 20, 2022

The Procurement Economy is having its moment in the sun. Last week the National Minority Supplier Development Council held a major conference in Chicago. The conference was an all-star event, attracting Illinois Governor J. B. Pritzker, federal officials like Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and EDA Administrator Alejandra Castillo, private sector leaders like John Rogers and Magic Johnson and a plethora of leaders from financial institutions, public authorities, constituency organizations and local governments. Read more...

Boosting Homeownership in an Era of Parasitic Capital - May 12, 2022

As the United States emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is becoming increasingly clear that the country is entering a period of deep economic uncertainty and adjustment. While the media has extensively covered the acceleration of remote work and the fragility of global supply chains since the beginning of the crisis, only recently has attention focused on the dramatic rise of investor purchases of single-family homes and what that and other forces might mean for homeownership generally and among Black- and Latino-owners in particular. Read more...

Infrastructure with a Purpose - April 28, 2022

Two weeks ago, I traveled to Toronto to participate in the Good Roads Conference. My talk, Mastering the New Disorder: Cities, Infrastructure and the Post Pandemic Economy – The New Localism, focused on the role of cities and metropolitan areas in delivering the unprecedented federal infrastructure investments that are being made in the United States. Read more...

Charging Forward on Electric Mobility - April 14, 2022

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act represents a potential turning point for electric mobility in the U.S. as historic government investment takes aim at meeting climate, equity, and global competition goals. Commitments from automakers, electric vehicle sales targets, growing consumer interest, and emissions regulations essentially assure an increased transition to electrified transportation. Critically, sustaining this transition is reliant upon city and state planning and coordination to stitch electric vehicle charging infrastructure into a connected and reliable national network. Read more...

Mastering the New Disorder - April 1, 2022

We often hear the phrase the “New Normal” to define periods that follow economic tumult. Yet that phrase inadequately captures the complexity and discontinuities of this moment. The “New Disorder” more aptly describes the large disruptive, if not destructive, dynamics which create the context within which cities function. Read more...

Procurement Lessons from the World's Biggest Purchaser - March 18, 2022

When we write about supplier diversity models that should be scaled, adopted, and adapted, our first inclination is usually to focus on state and local governments, or innovative private sector solutions. However, over the last year, the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Federal government have made some impressive progress in advancing equity in procurement, with a focus on Black-, Latino-, and other Minority-owned small businesses. Their efforts have been fostered by a focus from the White House on advancing equity through a whole-of-government approach, and today we review the federal government’s activities to shine a light on the steps other organizations can undertake to ensure that their purchasing decisions can advance local and equitable economic development. As the world’s largest purchaser — with $665 billion spent through federal contracts in fiscal year 2020 [1]— there is much to learn from how the federal government decides to spend its money. Read more...

The Rise of DIY Investment Playbooks - March 11, 2022

Following the passage of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan a year ago almost to the day, the Nowak Lab and New Localism Associates created an “Investment Playbook” tool to help cities maximize the fragmented flow of federal funds by strategically selecting geographies of opportunity and identifying and costing out concrete rescue and recovery projects within those geographies. This tool follows the simple maxim that “failing to plan is planning to fail”; federal investments may now be ample but only localities can design specific projects that are fit to place and geared for success. Read more...

National Competitiveness from the Bottom Up: Reflections from the Build Back Better Regional Challenge - March 3, 2022

Over the past two months, the five of us have been part of a community of practice selected by the Economic Development Administration to coach the winners of the $1 billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge (“BBBRC”). Along with partners at America Achieves, the Federation of American Scientists, the National League of Cities, and others, we have spent a great deal of time reflecting on what the BBBRC means for American competitiveness in this moment. Read more...

Regenerating Commercial Corridors: A Proposal for States - February 11, 2022

For the past several years, we have consistently recognized the immense value commercial corridors play in both urban and rural geographies. Commercial corridors are economic engines for communities — they provide jobs that keep money circulating in the local economy, offer goods and services for residents, and power entrepreneurship and wealth building for whole communities. They also serve as valuable gathering places and sources of civic pride. Commercial corridors hold economic and symbolic value, and impact public perceptions of surrounding neighborhoods and the communities. Read more...

Funding Networked Governance - February 3, 2022

As federal investments roll out at scale, it has become eminently clear that effective deployment is dependent upon networks of public, private and civic institutions coming together to design, finance and deliver concrete initiatives and projects. It is, in other words, a networked governance moment. Read more...

Unpacking the Nation's Capacity Challenge - January 21, 2022

As the euphoria of enacting the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act fades, the challenges facing implementation of this complex and sprawling legislation have come into sharp relief. First among them is the lack of sufficient capacity among many cities and counties to design and deliver projects that have the transformative impact that has been promised by bipartisan Congressional sponsors. Read more...

The Choices We Make - January 13, 2022

In the mid-1930s, Charles de Gaulle, then a French Army colonel, went to visit Leon Blum, the French Prime Minister. The future leader of France reproached Blum about the state of the country’s defenses.

Blum was taken aback, declaring “But we are spending more for defense than the previous Government!” “It is what you are spending it on,’ de Gaulle said, “that I want to discuss.” Read more...

A Roadmap to Inclusive Entrepreneurship - January 6, 2022

2022 marks what could be a new era for inclusive entrepreneurship and broad-based, dynamic growth. The historic federal investments set to flow to communities across the country in the next year present immense potential for metro economies and a tight nexus with an inclusive small business recovery. Read more...

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