Local matters: Regulating economic development in two Indiana cities

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Malackany, Christopher A.
Social sciences; Indiana cities; Political economy; United States; Urban development; Sociology
thesis / dissertation description
Since the 1970s, local governments have utilized similar redevelopment tools to counteract economic dislocations but cities often experience divergent development pathways. This project explores why these divergences occur through a comparative case study of a college town and factory town in Indiana. Qualitatively, I compile data from interviews with city officials, local government documents, and related research to address the towns’ divergent development paths. Two findings are noteworthy. First, a locality’s extant resources act as path-dependent liabilities for local growth. Second, state and federal aid greatly assists local development. Yet the defunding of these revenue streams, and a city’s reliance on specific types of funding, positions each city in a more or less advantageous position for future prosperity. These results suggest that local development is best understood as the interplay between local infrastructures, various intergovernmental incentives, and the needs of capital.