Economic Development

Carline Au mentioned in California Planning and Development Report

The work of our newest Associate, Carline Au, is mentioned in the California Planning and Development Report. The article is on redevelopment agency’s long-range property management plans.

“A couple of publicly available reports exist in the Bay Area, one on potential transit-oriented development sites and another inventorying public lands in Oakland, but they appear to have few counterparts.

The first is an inventory of Oakland public lands by Carline Au, currently an associate with Strategic Economics, Inc. Prepared as an academic paper in the UC-Berkeley planning M.A. program, her report analyzes 2,400 Oakland public properties in 15 different categories, including assets of the postredevelopment successor agency. Au calls on the city of Oakland to adopt a coordinated public lands policy as a strategy against displacement by gentrification. Her report is available from the Web site with free registration. The other Bay Area report is “Untapped Resources: Potential Bay Area Sites for Transit-Oriented Development,” by NPH. The report’s lead authors are Lane and Libby Seifel of Seifel Consulting, Inc., which works on post-redevelopment issues. The Great Communities Collaborative, housed at the San Francisco Foundation, supported the project. The report provides a selective catalog of properties with potential for transit-oriented development, including affordable housing, that appear on Long-Range Property Management Plans.”


Read the full article here:


Strategic EconomicsCarline Au mentioned in California Planning and Development Report
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Rebuilding Local Economies

How can small towns and cities adapt to changing conditions that affect the industries, technologies, and land use patterns that help form the foundation of their local economies? EPA’s new report provides case studies of seven communities that have successfully reinvigorated their struggling economies by emphasizing existing assets and distinctive resources. The report, How Small Towns and Cities Can Use Local Assets to Rebuild Their Economies: Lessons from Successful Places, draws on these case studies to offer strategies other communities can use.

Through the Smart Growth Implementation Assistance Program, EPA worked directly with Kelso, Washington, to explore how these types of strategies could address the city’s economic challenges brought about by the decline of the logging and smelt fishing industries. The resulting report, Using Smart Growth Strategies to Foster Economic Development: A Kelso, Washington, Case Study, provides a tool for communities looking to create their own smart growth economic development strategy that emphasizes existing assets, and it illustrates the use of that tool in Kelso.

Strategic EconomicsRebuilding Local Economies
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Smarth Growth -Kelso,WA

Strategic Economics went to Kelso, Washington this past week as we work towards developing a Smart Growth Economic Development Toolkit for the Environmental Protection Agency. Dena and Dominic participated in community meetings, with workshops focused on three areas in the South Kelso neighborhood. Strategic Economics expects to have the Toolkit completed sometime in early 2015.


Strategic EconomicsSmarth Growth -Kelso,WA
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HUD Sustainable Communities Webinar

Sujata Srivastava, along with Vinz Koller and Kristin Wolf of Social Policy Research Associates, will be moderating a Workforce and Economic Development webinar for HUD Sustainable Communities grantees on August 27, 2014.

Untitled1The focus of the webinar will be:
1) A discussion and interaction around specific trends and innovations in workforce and economic development;
2) an introduction to the new workforce law (WIOA), featuring workforce innovators who are laying the foundation for the future of economic development and jobs policy and programs; and
3) a brief preview of a planned Economic and Workforce Development Convening for grantees on October 23-24 in Oakland, CA.

Guest speaker Vera Krekanova Krofcheck, Director of Strategy and Research for the Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board will share the innovative work of her WIB.

Strategic EconomicsHUD Sustainable Communities Webinar
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A Middle Class Pathway for Bay Area Workers

I recently attended a lunchtime forum covering research findings regarding occupation and job opportunities for low and moderate income workers in the Bay Area. The event was hosted in San Francisco by SPUR, an urban planning and good government organization of which I’m a member. My colleagues and I previously had the privilege of collaborating with lecturers Jon Haveman and Steve Levy on our report for the East Bay EDA entitled “Building on Our Assets: Economic Development & Job Creation in the East Bay,” so I was curious to learn more about their current work for the Bay Area’s Economic Prosperity Strategy (funded by a HUD Sustainable Communities grant).

The lecture focused on pathways and opportunities for the Bay Area’s low and moderate income (“LMI”) workers to access better-compensated jobs. As presented, over 35 percent of the Bay Area’s workers qualify as LMI by earning wages of less than $18 per hour. These workers primarily differ from others by their relatively low education levels (46% hold a high school degree or less) and concentration in the age group 35 and under. They work and live throughout the Bay Area since their jobs are typically on-site service jobs within all industry sectors of the economy, which leads to a surprising result: their commutes are slightly shorter than the average worker, and are more likely to occur via bus or on foot rather than by rail or automobile.

So what are these workers’ opportunities for advancement? First of all, Jon was careful to point out that this is an analysis of workers rather than households; these workers are not necessarily living in lifelong poverty since the study does not examine household income, and the data shows many will “graduate” to higher incomes over time. That said, the study’s linkage of occupations and industry growth projections provides an opportunity to identify pathways to accelerate and widen this advancement.

Jon and Steve’s analysis has found that occupations in various office positions, sales, and construction tend to have the highest concentration of jobs in the $18 to $30 per hour salary range. These occupations require strong interpersonal skills, yet otherwise often only require on-the-job training (unfortunately, “soft skills” can be hardest to teach). All-in-all, the analysis has identified approximately 155 occupations paying $18 to $30, of which about 46% have zero “hard-to-train” skill requirements. Other middle-income occupations can still provide opportunities for advancement, but require a greater investment of education and training resources for success.

I’m excited to read the final reports that emerge from this project; I think the findings and recommendations will be useful for lots of my Bay Area projects, particularly those in economically distressed communities. Jon and Steve are taking their findings on the road now, presenting at community and stakeholder meetings throughout the Bay Area. In the meantime, check out Egon Terplan and Tony Vi’s blog post about the first phase of work.

Strategic EconomicsA Middle Class Pathway for Bay Area Workers
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TOD Workshop in Hartford, Connecticut

Sujata was a featured speaker at a recent transit-oriented development (TOD) workshop in Hartford, Connecticut, focused on understanding the potential for development along new transit lines in the “Knowledge Corridor” region. The Knowledge Corridor will soon have a new bus rapid transit line linking New Britain to Hartford –set to open in a couple of years — and is also planning a commuter rail connection between Hartford and Springfield, Mass. The workshop was co-sponsored by the Capitol Region Council of Governments (the metropolitan planning organization for the Hartford region) and the Partnership for Strong Communities, a regional organization focused on affordable housing and equitable development. Other presenters included Stephanie Pollack, Associate Director of Research, Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy, and David McCarthy of the Jonathan Rose Companies.

Sujata and David presented their ongoing market study for the Knowledge Corridor, which has found that there is a market for TOD in the region, particularly as “Millennial” workers enter the housing market. But given that the region’s projected population and household growth will be slow, and the real estate market fundamentals are still challenging, David and Sujata recommended that the state, region, and local governments begin by 1) making strategic investments along the transit corridors, including infrastructure improvements; and 2) targeting existing economic development dollars to TOD locations. Sujata highlighted the Cleveland Health Line as a promising example of a BRT corridor that leveraged its existing large anchor institutions, including universities and hospitals, to catalyze TOD. Because the Knowledge Corridor is rich in anchor institutions and major employers – many of them within the BRT and rail corridors – this could be a key strategy for moving forward with implementing TOD in the Hartford region.

Strategic EconomicsTOD Workshop in Hartford, Connecticut
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The month of March has been busy one for us at Strategic Economics. We kicked things off with a staff retreat, started several new projects and our principals Dena, Nadine and Sujata traversed the country for convenings and project work in Boston, New Orleans, Washington DC and beyond!

Earlier this week, Nadine traveled to Boston, MA to speak at the Value Capture Forum: Innovative Strategies to Fund 21st Century Transportation. This forum, hosted by HNTB Corporation and Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) provided a space for attendees to develop and explore ideas related to value capture concepts. Specifically, it addressed how Value Capture can fund capital needs for new transportation and/or provide support for ongoing operations and maintenance. Nadine’s overview of Value Capture laid the groundwork for the day’s subsequent presentations on Value Capture in practice and the development of innovative funding and financing strategies. Looking forward, MAPC hopes to see forum attendees use their newly acquired Value Capture knowledge to garner greater public and political support for their projects and related economic strategies. MAPC’s forthcoming whitepaper will synthesize forum topics and present the ways value capture concepts can be used to help the region meet its transportation needs. Keep your eyes out for this resource, as it is sure to be a good one.

On the same day, just a few states Westward, Dena presented on Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) and economic development to planners, policy makers and developers in the Lansing, MI region. Her speech was part of a longer-term effort led by the National Charrette Institute to help develop a unified vision for the Michigan/Grand River transit Corridor. Located in the Greater Lansing / Mid-Michigan region, the 19-mile corridor is a major artery through the region with great economic and revitalization potential.  The Corridor connects the State Capitol in Downtown Lansing with Sparrow Hospital, Michigan State University, and several key retail destinations.  In fact, jobs in this corridor comprise almost 40 percent of the region’s total jobs and closer to 50 percent of the region’s transit supportive jobs. Dena’s presentation included an introduction to TOD, a discussion of the relationship between transit and economic development, and a Q&A session (link to the video coming soon). Central to her overview were descriptions of how employment conditions in the Michigan/Grand River corridor make this an important employment spine for the region and an opportune place for enhanced transit.  The presentation set the stage for a more comprehensive charrette that will be happening in two parts.  The first part will take place in early May, and the second part will be in the fall.  This work is being funded by the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission as part of their Sustainable Communities grant from HUD. Additional support comes from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority.  For more information about the project go to

Future travel destinations for StratEconers include Anchorage, Alaska and Lakeworth, Florida. Until then, we are happy to have the office full and are enjoying the longer days.

Happy Spring everyone!

Strategic EconomicsJetsetting
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A Tropical Town Embracing TOD

When you think of Honolulu, Hawaii what comes to mind? Perhaps it is iconic images of sunshine, tropical fruits and sandy beaches, but as we’ve recently learned this state capital is also confronted with some less romantic realities, like heavily congested transit corridors and high energy costs. In efforts to remedy this situation, the state retained Strategic Economics and Smart Growth America (SGA) to identifying strategies, tools and resources that they can use to maximize the benefits of future rail investment in Honolulu and support the state’s future economic development and fiscal sustainability. The team’s report, “Leveraging State Agency Involvement in Transit-Oriented Development to Strengthen Hawaii’s Economy” is discussed in more detail here and available for download here, so check it out! We are pleased to see the how welcoming the state has been to TOD and sustainability (as evidenced by Governor’s New Day Plan) and are eager to see the application of our work in this unique market.

Strategic EconomicsA Tropical Town Embracing TOD
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