Urban planners, economic development planners, and economic growth



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A central goal of urban and economic development planning is producing policies and programs to promote economic growth. Urban planners and economic planners always struggle to define economic development policies to improve the growth in way that enhance the quality of life in the community people live and work. Hence, investigation of factors affecting economic growth at the regional level helps decision makers such as urban planners and economic development planners develop smarter policies to increase more opportunities for economic growth. This project aims to look at economic growth from the perspective of urban economic development planners. The main questions of this study include: What is economic growth at the regional level, and what factors influence the growth of US urban regions? Is there any relationship between transportation investments and economic growth? What can urban planners and economic development planners learn from the findings of the growth literature that can better link urban planning with economic development planning and policies? I used research synthesis/meta-study method to review a wide range of studies devoted to economic growth. As neoclassical economists discussed, labor, capital, and human capital and technology are the primary production factors. However, contemporary literature reveals secondary factors that stimulate the efficiency and quality of these primary factors. My findings show that secondary factors such as transportation infrastructure, amenities (schools, housing, weather, and historical, cultural, and recreational centers) and disamenities (pollution, road congestion, and crime rate) influence regional economic growth process. These material factors of economic growth are typically addressed by economists and economic development planners via quantitative analysis of the variables associated with per-capita regional GDP growth. I find, however; that urban planners address a qualitative set of secondary factors related to social norms and institutions. The normative factors include equity, diversity, and housing affordability, and the procedural factors are: public participation, government policies over land use and land development. By reviewing existing regional economic planning, I highlight the lack of strong linkage between economic development planners and urban planners. In the end, an economic growth guideline is developed which might help decision makers such as urban planners and economic development planners derive smarter policies to increase opportunities for economic growth and development.