EntreWorks Insights, September 2022 Edition

Welcome to the latest edition of EntreWorks Insights, a quarterly newsletter that reports on business trends, policy developments, and other issues affecting the business of economic and workforce development.   You’re receiving this note because you’ve asked to subscribe or because you have some previous interest in the work of EntreWorks Consulting. If you wish to subscribe or be removed from this list, please send an email to info (at) entreworks.net. If you’re interested in the newsletter, please read on.  Please feel free to share with friends, family, colleagues, and other loved ones.  Comments and constructive criticism (and praise) are also welcome.  You are also encouraged to visit the EntreWorks blog at http://entreworks.net/blog.  Thanks for your interest.

Erik R. Pages


EntreWorks Consulting


EntreWorks Insights

Volume 19, Number 2

September 2022

HIGHLIGHTS:     Recent Reads:  Fall Book Ideas

                              What’s New at EntreWorks Consulting?

Recent Reads:  Some Ideas for Your Fall Reading

If you’re like me, the return of Fall weather means a more intensive reading schedule along with football and other Autumn pleasures. In an effort to feed your reading itch, I’ve made a short list of my recent reads that have some relevance to our work in economic and community development.  As you’ll see, my reading preferences tend to be pretty wonky. You won’t find a light vacation read here, but you might get some useful insights on community building. Most of these books were published in the past year. We welcome your book ideas too—if you have recommendations you’d like to share, send them to me at epages (at) entreworks.net and I’ll post them on the EntreWorks blog!

Billionaire Wilderness:  The Ultra-Wealthy and the Remaking of the American West by Justin Farrell.

I’ve enjoyed every book on this list, but this one is probably my favorite. It’s a fascinating tale of life in Teton County (Jackson Hole), Wyoming, from a former resident turned Yale sociology professor.  Farrell’s local connections gave him access to a wide swath of the community, and his study examines the lives of the ultra-wealthy and those who work to support them.  To a certain extent, this is a story of loving a place too much.  Thanks to the influx of the uber-wealthy, it’s become almost impossible to find affordable housing in the region, forcing workers to commute from miles away.  (Jackson County’s median home price currently tops $3 million!).  The new wealthy residents bid up prices, and, in their zeal to protect their ranches and assets, place tight restriction on future development.  I’ve read several recent books on recent trends in scenic rural locales:  Dividing Paradise by Jennifer Sherman is another good read. Billionaire Wilderness is especially good at discussing how the uber-wealthy view their lives and communities. If you live in one of these new Zoom-towns, this book is especially relevant for you.

Place and Prosperity:  How Cities Help Us to Connect and Innovateby William Fulton.

Bill Fulton is a well-known urban planner with long experience working in cities in California and Texas.  This book represents a summation of what he’s learned over a long and impressive career, and it’s well worth your time. His basic equation is simple: Place + Prosperity = A Successful Community.  The book’s various essays explore aspects of how we can support business and job growth while also building places that have a distinctive and desirable sense of community. This book has lots of thought-provoking ideas, and real-life examples of what works in practice.

Constructing Community-Urban Governance, Development and Inequality in Boston by Jeremy Levine.

The last edition of EntreWorks Insights focused on issues of community capacity:  how can rural and distressed places effectively compete for outside funding and projects if they lack essential resources and capacity? That’s a core focus of Constructing Community too.  Levine examines the role of community development corporations in Boston, with a particular focus on development of a new transit line through previously unserved and disadvantaged neighborhoods. Levine highlights the role of non-profit organizations as community intermediaries. These NGOs bring needed capacity but there is no free lunch. Do these organizations truly represent “the community?”  Are they ensuring that all voices are heard?  Levine recognizes that these processes now represent “urban policy in practice,” but also raises important questions on whether these practices are truly fair, equitable and effective.

The Shadow of the Mine:  Coal and the End of Industrial Britain by Huy Beynon and Roy Hudson.

I’ve worked with many coal-reliant communities in recent years, so I was intrigued to read this assessment of how Britain dealt with the decline of coal in the 1970s and 1980s.  It was a different time and place, but let’s just say that most of the lessons here fall into the “what not to do” category.  Britain’s coal production was centered in two different regions:  South Wales and Durham.  Each place fared differently, but the end result remains the same. The end of coal, and even worse, limited efforts to help communities rebuild and recover.  Even today-decades after the closures-many of these regions, especially in Wales, are among Britain’s most economically challenged.

How States Government Can Target Job Opportunities to Distressed Places by Timothy Bartik.

This entry is more of a long research report as opposed to a book, but that doesn’t mean it’s not deserving of close reading by economic development professionals.  The Upjohn Institute’s Bartik is one of our leading economic development policy experts and this report distills decades of his work to make economic development programs more effective and inclusive. This report, available for free from the Upjohn Institute, contends that our current public economic development programs need major restructuring to better address local labor market challenges. This is a big challenge, as around 2/5 of all Americans live in distressed local labor markets. Bartik calls for targeted state block grant programs as one solution, and he offers extensive details on how and why these initiatives should work.  Overall, he estimates that this effort, if fully implemented, could cost up to $30 billion per year.  That’s a large number, but it still pales in comparison to the roughly $80 billion that is estimated to be spent annually on economic development tax incentives.

What’s New at EntreWorks Consulting?

It’s been a fun and productive 2022 so far, and I’m looking forward to the coming months.  In addition to interesting work engagements in Danville (VA), Prince William County (VA), Indiana and Appalachia, I’m excited to be heading on a family trip to Denmark in October.  We’ve also recently closed work on projects for the US Virgin Islands and Penn State University-Harrisburg.  Finally, Erik Pages of EntreWorks Consulting has been appointed to the Advisory Board for the American Resilience and Equity Networks Initiative (ARENI), an interesting new initiative led by the University Economic Developers Association.

You can find reports and other great resources at our website; we encourage you to check it out. The website also includes access to all past issues of the EntreWorks Insights newsletter and the EntreWorks blog at http://entreworks.net/blog.  In addition, you can still access blog updates at our Facebook and LinkedIn pages.  Recent posts have examined the commercial kitchen sector and debates on regulating the gig economy.  We look forward to connecting in person at some point in 2022 and beyond!