There is growing evidence that the most effective way to grow the U.S. economy is to promote innovation, and the best place to do that is at the regional level. Within regions, economic development efforts need to put greater emphasis on identifying the region’s competitive assets, and on investing public and private resources in ways that fully exploit those assets. To organize that process, these efforts need a regional structure that brings together key leaders from across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to formulate growth strategies that make the best use of regions’ competitive assets.
This report summarizes the key lessons the authors have learned in terms of what regions are doing to put that kind of partnership structure in place. To that end, they look at how four regions are developing and implementing regional economic growth strategies. They supplement that research with hands-on work in five additional regions, helping local workforce developers align their efforts with their strategies to grow targeted industries. They also convened two roundtables—in partnership with the Council on Competitiveness and the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program—of leading researchers and practitioners to do a reality verify their findings and to capture the lessons being learned by others working in this area.