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Collaborative Governance for Urban Revitalization

Collaborative Governance for Urban Revitalization: Lessons from Empowerment Zones

Michael J. Rich
Robert P. Stoker
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: Cornell University Press
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  • Book Info
    Collaborative Governance for Urban Revitalization
    Book Description:

    For more than one hundred years, governments have grappled with the complex problem of how to revitalize distressed urban areas. In 1995, the original urban Empowerment Zones (Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, New York, and Philadelphia) each received a $100 million federal block grant and access to a variety of market-oriented policy tools to support the implementation of a ten-year strategic plan to increase economic opportunities and promote sustainable community development in high-poverty neighborhoods. In Collaborative Governance for Urban Revitalization, Michael J. Rich and Robert P. Stoker confront the puzzle of why the outcomes achieved by the original Empowerment Zones varied so widely given that each city had the same set of federal policy tools and resources and comparable neighborhood characteristics.

    The authors' analysis, based on more than ten years of field research in Atlanta and Baltimore and extensive empirical analysis of EZ processes and outcomes in all six cities shows that revitalization outcomes are best explained by the quality of local governance. Good local governance makes positive contributions to revitalization efforts, while poor local governance retards progress. While policy design and contextual factors are important, how cities craft and carry out their strategies are critical determinants of successful revitalization. Rich and Stoker find that good governance is often founded on public-private cooperation, a stance that argues against both the strongest critics of neoliberalism (who see private enterprise as dangerous in principle) and the strongest opponents of liberalism (who would like to reduce the role of government).

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-7091-2
    Subjects: Political Science, Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
    (pp. 1-12)

    For more than one hundred years the federal government has grappled with the complex problem of how to revitalize distressed urban areas. In 1892, Congress appropriated twenty thousand dollars to develop a plan to address the problems of slums in American cities (Willmann 1967). A century later, the Clinton administration launched the Empowerment Zones (EZ) and Enterprise Communities (EC) initiative—a multibillion–dollar community revitalization effort to create economic opportunity and promote sustainable community development in areas suffering from pervasive poverty, high unemployment, and physical or economic decline.

    Although many federal urban programs were created and many more were proposed...

    (pp. 13-36)

    In the aftermath of the riots in South Central Los Angeles in April 1992, big-city mayors hoped national attention would once again focus on the problems of the cities. Although mayors and other urban leaders thought the time was ripe for a new approach to federal urban policy, political partisans disagreed about the causes of the riots. Marlin Fitzwater, President George H. W. Bush’s press secretary, suggested that the violence in Los Angeles was caused by the failure of the Great Society’s antipoverty programs when he remarked that “many of the root problems that have resulted in inner-city difficulties were...

    (pp. 37-52)

    Many American cities experienced a renaissance during the 1990s. Long-standing trends toward urban decline were reversed; more young people finished high school, more people went to work, and poverty, though persistent, became somewhat less concentrated in central cities. Celebrating these developments, Paul Grogan and Tony Proscio (2000) touted several “comeback cities” in which social and economic conditions improved. They identified two trends that were evident in comeback cities: population growth (in many cases reversing decades-long declines) and gains in median income. Although these changes did not reduce poverty, Grogan and Proscio suggested that comeback cities did provide a decent, safe...

    (pp. 53-84)

    The EZ initiative was designed to foster a comprehensive approach for creating jobs and economic opportunities in distressed communities. The legislation and program guidelines (HUD 1994, 17) made it clear that nominated areas “must suffer from pervasive poverty, unemployment, and general distress” and also made it clear that the strategies for revitalizing distressed communities needed to be locally designed and driven.

    To establish the foundation for our evaluation and assessment of the EZ initiative, this chapter describes the demographic, socioeconomic, and market conditions and trends in the original six EZ cities, paying close attention to the interconnectedness between conditions and...

    (pp. 85-102)

    As the original EZ cities made the transition from planning to implementation, many of the processes and organizations that had contributed to strategic planning were abandoned or transformed. As a result, the nature of local governance (and citizen participation, particularly) changed significantly. In many cities the extensive community participation that was evident during strategic planning dropped off significantly during implementation (Wright et al. 1996; Gittell et al. 2001; Hebert et al. 2001).

    Three factors made the transition from planning to implementation, which always has been difficult for federal urban policies, especially difficult for the EZ initiative. First, in the 1990s...

    (pp. 103-129)

    Good government, as Donald Campbell (1969, 409) noted in his classic article, “Reforms as Experiments,” is expected to evaluate its actions and to make decisions to “retain, imitate, modify, or discard [programs] on the basis of their apparent effectiveness.” Although scholars were quick to recognize the political consequences of evaluation, the idea that systematic evidence of program effectiveness should be mustered and examined when deciding how to solve social problems is now accepted as a requisite of good government (Weiss 1975; Aaron 1978; Levitan and Wurzberg 1979; Rossi et al. 2003).

    Evaluation research contributes to good government by distinguishing programs...

    (pp. 130-163)

    Atlanta enjoyed many advantages in the fierce competition for EZ designation. These included extensive experience with federal urban programs and a high-profile antipoverty initiative launched by former President Jimmy Carter in 1991. Atlanta also was in the midst of final preparations to host the 1996 summer Olympic Games, which were expected to enhance economic opportunities in the city and its low-income neighborhoods. Indeed, shortly after Atlanta’s EZ designation HUD assistant secretary Andrew Cuomo called Atlanta “the Michael Johnson of Empowerment Zones,” a reference to the American sprinter who was favored to win several gold medals. Johnson, however, pulled up lame...

    (pp. 164-197)

    Baltimore made a spectacle of delivering its EZ application. Mayor Kurt Schmoke traveled to HUD headquarters with busloads of supporters, featuring a marching band with baton twirlers and dancers (Gamerman 1994). The band played and the crowd cheered as Schmoke delivered Baltimore’s application to HUD secretary Henry Cisneros. Less striking, though perhaps more important, was the presence of members of Maryland’s congressional delegation, including Senator Barbara Mikulski (who chaired the subcommittee that had oversight of HUD’s budget) and Representative Kweisi Mfume (an influential member of the Congressional Black Caucus). Despite the hoopla, Baltimore was regarded by many as a long...

    (pp. 198-225)

    Our central argument is that governance matters. That is, differences in revitalization outcomes achieved across the original urban EZs can best be explained by the quality of local governance. As we stated in chapter 2, local governance concerns more than just the performance of city government; governance is the set of local structures and processes that may create and sustain the capacity to act in conditions of diffuse authority, interest conflict, and mutual dependency (Stone 1989; Chaskin and Garg 1997; Stoker 1998).

    This chapter develops a better understanding of how and why cities vary in their capacity to solve important...

    (pp. 226-246)

    The quality of local governance distinguished the performance of the revitalization initiatives undertaken in the original urban EZs. Zone neighborhoods attained better outcomes than their matched-pair counterparts where good governance was consistently practiced over the course of the initiative. Although the literature evaluating the EZ initiative has separated questions about local governance from questions about local outcomes, we have joined these concerns.

    In this final chapter we explore the implications of our findings to draw more general lessons about revitalization programs and city politics. What do our claims about local governance imply for our knowledge of urban politics and federalism?...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 247-258)
  15. References
    (pp. 259-274)
  16. Index
    (pp. 275-284)