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City-Based Projects

Industry Cluster Research & Analysis

ICIC is focusing the lens on business clusters. For the first time, ICIC is able to identify emerging industry clusters and take action to foster their growth. Overall, the data show that inner city job growth is being driven by several key clusters of businesses including business services; construction and real estate development; healthcare; hospitality; and education and knowledge creation. The data will allow ICIC to benchmark cities and hone specific city strategies.

One of the most important insights has to do with cities themselves. Each has its own geographic shape, population density, and business assets and challenges. Certain cities are adding or losing businesses, jobs and population faster than others, and success and failure has been achieved in widely varying conditions.

Recent ICIC data and analysis show that inner cities and regions often have different economic strengths and specializations; and that the poor job creation performance of inner city economies over the past decade is largely a product of weak growth in locally-traded clusters. By demonstrating that inner city economies have different specializations and challenges, ICIC’s work is able to demonstrate that future cluster policy should allow cluster strategies to be developed for inner city economies rather than just entire regions and break with traditional approaches that focus exclusively on nationally- and globally-traded clusters. Without allowance for inner city differences and needs, regional cluster policy could strengthen regions at the expense of their inner cities, thus exacerbating economic and social inequities.

Engaging at the City Level

ICIC helps U.S. cities identify their competitive advantages and design private sector-led action strategies. This inclusive approach leads to more comprehensive economic strategies that benefit from the acceptance and commitment of all constituencies and are linked directly to inner city residents.

ICIC’s work with cities is comprised of three separate phases. The first phase describes the local economy in terms of the contribution of various economic clusters to local business and employment opportunities, and traces the contribution of different local clusters over time. The output provides a broad and deep overview of cluster employment trends for all sectors for the local, regional and national economies.

During phase II, ICIC senior staff members assess the competitive strengths and weaknesses of the city. With results from the data analysis and interviews, ICIC identifies those economic clusters that have the most potential for job creation. Phase III focuses on strategy for linking the local area to regional clusters. The output identifies the most promising opportunities to leverage regional clusters; and a detailed strategy on how to position the local area and its firms within these clusters.

During 2007 and 2008, ICIC continued to update and analyze cluster activity in West Louisville (KY), the rest of Louisville (city), and the entire metropolitan region. In 2009, ICIC has undertaken a cluster study in Philadelphia for the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation. Past work in Boston, Brooklyn, Chicago, Harlem, Kansas City, Louisville, Milwaukee, Oakland, St. Louis, five Connecticut cities, Reading, PA, Vancouver, BC, and the United Kingdom.