Policies for Place report shows how to make sustainable investments in communities

Four friends enjoy walking across a city street

Place matters. In the US, some cities and states are thriving, while others have been left behind. State and local policymakers have taken a leading role in designing policies and programs that aim to build resilient communities, develop skilled workforces, and create good jobs. But because resources are limited, it is crucial for policymakers to identify effective programs and put them on a sustainable financial footing. 

Which policies can state and local governments enact to maximize their impact within constrained budgets? And once implemented, how can these programs be sustained to create broadly shared prosperity – for today and far into the future?

A new report from the Upjohn Institute, Policies for Place: How to Make Sustainable Investments in Communities, examines ways to design, enact, and sustain effective community-based economic development programs. Experts from the institute and around the country contribute key insights.

“While federal and state support is important, locally led efforts are vital to the creation of vibrant local economies that benefit everyone,” said Upjohn Institute President Mike Horrigan. “The Policies for Place initiative explores how communities can create broadly shared prosperity in their immediate areas, for today and far into the future.”

Specific articles in this year’s report include: 

How to Attract and Retain Talent in a Highly Mobile World

Brain Drain or Brain Gain: Where College Graduates Locate by Brad Hershbein

Spending more on regional public universities with high graduation rates yields a high return on investment for states wishing to retain their college graduates.

Remote Work’s Quiet Impact on Rural Communities by Brian Asquith

Drawn by amenities and recreation opportunities, remote workers, who tend to be college-educated, moved to rural areas during the Covid pandemic. This shift could have long lasting implications for these communities.

Boosting Communities that Have Been Left Behind

Reimagining Business Incentives to Do More with Less by Tim Bartik

Rather than focusing economic development policy on tax incentive “megadeals” which cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per job created, states should expand customized business and job access services to residents of distressed places.

ARPA’s Small Community Quandary by Kyle Huisman, Kathleen Bolter, and Lee Adams

The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) aimed to aid small communities, but the Treasury’s formula missed the mark dishing out similar funds per capita to less populated areas, regardless of wealth. This left some needy areas shortchanged.

Investing in Human Infrastructure

Sandwich Generation: Caring for Children and Older Adults by Gabrielle Pepin and Yulya Truskinovsky

Many families faced with securing care for children and older adults are struggling to afford basic needs. How can states and localities foster growth and inclusivity by expanding caregiving support? Here are some ways to make it happen.

Tuition-Free College? Promise Program Sustainability

by Michelle Miller-Adams

Free college programs expand access to higher education. To sustain these Promise programs for the future, public-private partnerships, tax-capture mechanisms, and long-term public funding are key.

Innovations in Education and Training

The Evolution of Promise Scholarship Programs by Bridget Timmeney and Alfonso Hernandez

Tuition-free college programs succeed when they move beyond scholarships to guide students past common college roadblocks, link students with employers, and meet the needs of adult learners.

Three Exciting Support Models to Supercharge Community College Outcomes by Kathleen Bolter

Can programs boost community college completion and ROI? These three say: Yes!

Responsive Training: Driving Innovation Economies by Iryna Lendel

Forward-thinking regions prioritize diverse skill sets, tailoring local training programs to meet employer and employee needs.

How Should States and Localities Spend their Money? 

GoFundMe should not be functioning as our national safety net
Interview with Monique Stanton, Michigan League for Public Policy

Fostering better collaboration and facilitating cross-agency learning
Interview with Edward Smith, EducationCounsel LLC

Lessons learned in promoting place-based prosperity
Interview with Jen Iriti, University of Pittsburgh

Balancing environmental sustainability with local prosperity
Interview with Mary Donegan, University of Connecticut

The Policies for Place initiative at the Upjohn Institute brings together experts from around the country to study how state and local policymakers can create good jobs, develop skilled workforces who can access and keep those jobs, and build resilient, thriving communities.

The Upjohn Institute has operated a major research initiative focused on place-based economic and community development policies for six years. Previously called Promise: Investing in Community, the Policies for Place initiative focuses on a wide range of place-based policies.

Date: March 26, 2024