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Cityscape: Volume 2 Number 2


Bridging Regional Growth and Community Empowerment

Volume 2, Number 2

Ann R. Weeks


Bridging Regional Growth and Community Empowerment

Advisory Board

Editor: Michael A. Stegman

Managing Editor: Ann R. Weeks

Guest Editors: William J. Benfanti and John P. Ross

Elijah Anderson
University of Pennsylvania

Roy Bahl
Georgia State University

Ann Bowman
University of South Carolina

Henry Coleman
Rutgers University

Greg Duncan
University of Michigan

Amy Glasmeier
Pennsylvania State University

Norman J. Glickman
Rutgers University

Harvey Goldstein
University of North Carolina

Jane Gravelle
Congressional Research Service

Bennett Harrison
Harvard University

Steven P. Hornburg
Fannie Mae Foundation

Helen F. Ladd
Duke University

Wilhelmina A. Leigh
Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies

Laurence E. Lynn, Jr.
University of Chicago

Sandra Newman
Johns Hopkins University

John Tuccillo
National Association of Realtors

Avis Vidal
New School of Social Research

Don Villarejo
California Institute for Rural Studies

Susan Woodward
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission

Cityscape: A Journal of Policy Development and Research strives to share HUD-funded and other research on housing and urban policy issues with scholars, government officials, and others involved in setting policy and determining the direction of future research.

Cityscape focuses on innovative ideas, policies, and programs that show promise in revitalizing cities and regions, renewing their infrastructure, and creating economic opportunities. A typical issue consists of articles that examine various aspects of a theme of particular interest to our audience.

From the Editor

Michael A. Stegman, Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research

When formulating a national urban policy, it is vital both to address the important role that cities play in the livability and the economy of metropolitan regions and to confront the concerns of the communities in those cities and regions over problems such as crime, unemployment, and urban decay. To understand more fully the complex nature of these problems and their impact on one another, members of the policy community require superior research and an open dialogue with the academic community. The purpose of a journal such as Cityscape—and this issue in particular—is to provide a forum for the exchange of information and perspectives on some of our most pressing issues.

The debate is not limited to cities in this country alone; urbanization is a worldwide trend. In fact, it is estimated that by the year 2025 almost 5 billion people—62 percent of the global population—will live in urban areas. Since trends and problems are shared on a global basis, the search for solutions should take place on a world scale as well. That search is the purpose of Habitat II, the Second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements, which will be held in Istanbul, Turkey, June 3–14, 1996. At Habitat II, also known as the City Summit, political and social leaders from more than 150 nations will discuss concerns associated with the increasing urban population.

The dialogue assembled in this issue of Cityscape is designed to augment U.S. participation in Habitat II. The issue highlights some of the major concerns about economic growth, crime control, and community empowerment facing our urban areas. The articles were first presented at two roundtables cosponsored by the Social Science Research Council and HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research, with additional funding from the Ford Foundation. The combined effort of these organizations demonstrates both the seriousness of the issues and the promising contribution that cooperation between the policy and academic realms can make to the search for solutions. I hope that you find the articles stimulating, and that they prompt thoughtful responses and enlightening dialogue on the future of our communities, both in the United States and throughout the world.

Guest Editor's Introduction

William J. Benfanti
John P. Ross
Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Policy Development and Research

In 1993 and 1994, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD's) Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R), in cooperation with the Social Science Research Council cosponsored two research roundtables: one on Regionalism and one on Neighborhood Change and Community Empowerment. The articles in this volume of Cityscape are expanded versions of the papers presented at the roundtables. The purpose of the papers was to provide PD&R, State and local government officials, and the private sector with the best, most current research on these interwoven topics. The roundtables, as you will agree after reading this volume, were successful.

In commissioning the background papers for the Roundtable on Regionalism, Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research Michael A. Stegman charged the authors with the tasks of providing policy insights, rendering a clearer sense of the concept of regionalism, and identifying the direction HUD might take in formulating a policy on the subject. Specifically, the authors were asked to identify the nature of regionalism and the issues that drive it, the form it is taking across the United States, and the issues HUD should examine to formulate a policy position on regionalism.

With respect to the Roundtable on Neighborhood Change and Community Empowerment, the authors were again charged with providing policy insights and a clearer sense of what a Federal urban strategy built around empowerment means. In addition, the authors were asked to offer a sense of what HUD should be doing to support and encourage positive neighbor-hood change and community empowerment. The goals of this roundtable included identification of (1) the issues that drive community empowerment, (2) the problems that still must be overcome in order to mobilize our least-empowered communities—whether geographically or socially—to become politically active entities for the improvement of their neighborhoods, and (3) steps HUD can take to facilitate this process.

In this introduction we describe and compare the major themes presented in the issue and highlight particular insights in individual articles. The concluding section of the introduction suggests areas for future research, with emphasis on the need for a better under-standing of the important links tying regional well-being to community empowerment.

Evolving Regionalism
The authors who deal with this theme emphasize the importance of a region's key geographic and social components to its overall economic success and livability. For example, success is often characterized by a city that is the economic engine for an entire metropolitan area. Such a city requires neighborhoods that can, and will, adapt to changing economic and social environments—neighborhoods that are not so entrenched in the old way of doing things that they cannot adjust to a new economic and social order. Communities that have the power to take advantage of new opportunities as they are presented and that are empowered to make their own decisions concerning the future are necessary to facilitate entrepreneurial neighborhoods. For example, the article by Todd Swanstrom discusses ways in which the seemingly intractable nature of the problems confronting our urban areas can be addressed with new, coordinated regional strategies. Increasingly, solutions that address both the inner city and the suburbs are used to address the obstacles facing these regions. The assumption underlying this strategy is that the economic fates of cities, their suburbs, and the region are inexorably linked. As a consequence, regional solutions are seen as the best way to approach urban problems.

Swanstrom also notes that some of our decaying cities, surrounded by prospering suburbs in growing regions, are becoming increasingly less significant to the Nation's economic prosperity. He explores these competing themes of regional development and suggests that the apparent contradictions highlight our lack of understanding of the importance of connections among regions, cities, neighborhood change, and community empowerment. The debate about what makes regions livable cannot be limited to economic forces, nor can it fixate on the conflict between advocates of government intervention and advocates of market forces. Rather, the significant relationship between social and private capital and regional growth and prosperity must be explored.

Margaret Weir finds that, in addition to such challenges as crime, economic downturns, and population loss, cities face declining power and influence in State politics as well. The growth of suburbs and the corresponding decline in cities is due in part to the demo-graphic shift of population away from inner cities, but it also relates to the changing political landscape in the States. Weir's examination of Chicago and New York provides illustrative case studies of the complicated political milieus in which cities now find them-selves. The old politics of regional give-and-take has been displaced by shifts in population and increased power, professionalism, and fragmentation in State legislatures. Cities may now be more in control of their fate than in past decades, but they must also become increasingly self reliant as the States and the Federal Government become less willing to support their services.

The most successful regional economies are those in which corporate and social boundaries blur and community resources such as schools, businesses, and other social institutions contribute to an entrepreneurial business climate, according to AnnaLee Saxenian. For Saxenian, this networking of resources separates truly successful regional economies from mere economic clusters. Networking allows businesses that are fierce competitors to collaborate, formally and informally, with one another. It also allows increased interaction among research and academic communities and the business sector.

The article by Bennett Harrison, Jon Gant, and Maryellen Kelley further explores the local agglomeration economies and clusters discussed by Saxenian, but with a different emphasis. In their exploration of urbanization versus localization, the authors attempt to account for the tendency of businesses to cluster geographically and to persist in these clusters as the businesses reinvent themselves over time. In a national review of manufacturing establishments, Harrison and his colleagues find that the level of urbanization is a significant predictor of the adoption of technology across businesses of varying size and product mix. They do not, however, find support for the thesis that clusters themselves account for technology integration.

Neighborhood Change and Community Empowerment
The articles in this section focus on the importance of neighborhood adaptation and communities' utilization of opportunities provided by cities and their surrounding regions. Without entrepreneurial neighborhoods and empowered communities, both cities and their regions are less inviting places in which to live and work.

The article by Dan Lewis examines the body of research on community crime prevention initiatives, particularly those that go beyond traditional criminal justice activities. In his discussion, Lewis reviews competing paradigms for the prevention and control of crime that have been attempted over the past few decades. Using these competing theories of social control and organization as a basis for discussion, Lewis relates the theoretical concerns to the larger questions of the nature of crime and the divergent public attitudes that cause a split in policy direction. A series of policy options resulting from the debate are offered.

Patterns of successful community organizing are Peter Dreier's major concern. These patterns include not only the extent of the Federal role in community empowerment but also issues of leadership cultivation at the local level. As an example of this cultivation, Dreier recalls the lessons learned about the community development sector a decade or so ago. In a series of case studies, he compares and contrasts various experiments with community organizing strategies and uses his findings to formulate a series of policy recommendations based on general program criteria and specific program recommendations.

Prudence Brown notes that urban renewal strategies and policies that focused on a growing list of problems associated with urban America have had a number of unintended consequences. While the Federal Government has promulgated various urban initiatives to support cities and metropolitan areas in distress, these are not the only urban renewal efforts. Against the context of larger national efforts to improve the lot of our cities, a number of community-based initiatives have been launched in recent years but are often overlooked. These programs, supported through public/private partnerships, foundations, and other organizations, form the basis of a significant movement and perhaps represent the future for urban strategies.

Examining recent community-based initiatives, Brown draws generalizations about their shared assumptions, their early successes, and the role for a Federal partnership in such community-based strategies. She concludes that while the history of the programs is too short to allow substantial conclusions to be drawn, they demonstrate a broad range of subjects, a "confluence of ideas," and a shared commitment to addressing the challenges of urban America.

Future Research Suggested by the Roundtables
In addition to addressing the initial questions posed, the authors present a series of important issues and concerns that suggest areas for future research. Individual articles mention areas of particular concern that should be carefully considered. Rather than reiterating those lists, we will focus on some of the far-reaching issues and note several areas in need of further examination.

Although both roundtables point to specific concerns in the separate areas of regionalism and community empowerment, the overlapping of the two issues provides the most intriguing topic for further analysis. In studies of this overlap, the importance of community empowerment to regionalism and of regionalism to community empowerment needs further exploration. Although the authors were not asked to address this topic, it is the logical next step in the process of examining important links between community economic growth and its role in regional livability.

For example, extrapolating from the Swanstrom thesis of social capital as an explanation for regional economic development, we can see implied connections between community empowerment and the prosperity of the region. These connections are further examined by Saxenian, who discusses the blurring of social boundaries and the shared interest in community resources such as schools and businesses. Continued research on expanding opportunities for networking of resources and melding of social sectors may further delineate a successful economic and social cluster.

The community-based initiatives for urban renewal examined by Brown demonstrate ways in which public/private partnerships can be useful tools for bridging the gap between the perceived dichotomy of government solutions versus market solutions to the problems facing our communities. The leadership that Dreier recommends and the creative solutions to crime problems that Lewis outlines may lie in the enterprising use of private resources and governmental direction. Leadership, public/private partnerships, and creative solutions must be further examined with a bent toward identifying additional models of flexibility that empower communities. We hope you enjoy the volume and find it useful.

William J. Benfanti is a special research affiliate in the Economic Development and Public Finance Division of HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research. He will receive his doctorate in political science from the University of Maryland in June 1996.

John P. Ross is director of the Economic Development and Public Finance Division of HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research. Dr. Ross received his Ph.D. in economics from Syracuse University, taught at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, and has written several articles and books on urban development.

The Evolving Regionalism

Ideas Matter: Reflections on the New Regionalism
by Todd Swanstrom

Central Cities' Loss of Power in State Politics
by Margaret Weir

Inside-Out: Regional Networks and Industrial Adaptation in Silicon Valley and Route 128
by AnnaLee Saxenian

Specialization Versus Diversity in Local Economies: The Implications for Innovative Private-Sector Behavior
by Bennett Harrison, Maryellen R. Kelley, and Jon Gan

Neighborhood Change and Community Empowerment

Crime and Community: Continuities, Contradictions, and Complexities
by Dan A. Lewis

Community Empowerment Strategies: The Limits and Potential of Community Organizing in Urban Neighborhoods
by Peter Dreier

Comprehensive Neighborhood-Based Initiatives
by Prudence Brown



Cityscape is published three times a year by the Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Subscriptions are available at no charge and single copies at a nominal fee. The journal is also available on line at http://www.

PD&R welcomes submissions to the Refereed Papers section of the journal. Our referee process is double blind and timely, and our referees are highly qualified. The managing editor will also respond to authors who submit outlines of proposed papers regarding the suitability of those proposals for inclusion in Cityscape. Send manuscripts or outlines to

Opinions expressed in the articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of HUD or the U.S. government.

Visit PD&R’s website,, to find this publication and others sponsored by PD&R. Other services of HUD USER, PD&R’s research information service, include listservs, special interest and bimonthly publications (best practices and significant studies from other sources), access to public use databases, and a hotline (800–245–2691) for help with accessing the information you need.


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