A New Approach to Economic Development

We must rethink economic development to create more equitable, healthy, and prosperous American cities. Remaking Local Economies is a research initiative led by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy that aims to produce tangible policy guidance for city leaders who want to take up this challenge. Our highly adaptable framework will enable city leaders to make economic development choices that advance community well-being and equitable access to opportunities—allowing everyone to prosper.


Evening building skyline of Cleveland Ohio

Using Economic Development to Put People First in Small and Midsized American Cities

Economic development is too often conflated with the idea of economic growth. As a result, cities tend to pursue a one-sizefits-all approach, pushing for “more”—more jobs, more people, more businesses—without considering residents’ quality of life, and without addressing social inequities and structural barriers. Populations most in need of new and/or different resources—particularly members of historically marginalized groups—deserve better from their governments than these approaches tend to allow.

Our Work 

Remaking Local Economies lays out a three-step process for designing economic development strategies to meet local community needs: 

Looking in

Look inside a community to determine what assets exist and how new ones can help people thrive.


Leverage not only assets but also connections and collaborations among people and institutions to generate new opportunities across geographic and other barriers. 

Locking in

Lock in a virtuous cycle of place-based growth that keeps capital, talent, and innovation within healthy, thriving communities.