For urban development, expert urges back-to-basics approach

Feb 9, 2016

According to Laura Reese, while Midtown Detroit is seeing some income growth, the rest of the city is only getting worse.
Credit Wikimedia user, Andrew Jameson / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Construction is moving along in Detroit on the new Red Wings arena scheduled to open in 2017.

It’s right across from the Comerica Park, which is across the street from Ford Field.

Do economic development tactics like shiny new stadiums and arenas, casinos, and festival marketplaces really pay off for cities? What really works in urban development?

Michigan State University’s Laura Reese is a political science professor and director of the Global Urban Studies Program at MSU, and she thinks the answer may be to focus less on the glitz and more on getting the simple basics done right.

In their upcoming book Roads to Prosperity, Reese and her husband, Gary Sands, dig into questions of how local policies can stimulate urban growth and economic health.

“What I really want to get across to city officials is, there’s no one best answer. There’s not a single silver bullet that will work everywhere,” Reese says. “If you spend your money on things like tax abatements or deals for sports teams, then we won’t have as much revenue to be able to invest in those basic things.”

Listen to our conversation above for more from Laura Reese.