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BBA Economic Digest

When an economic developer gives me a tour of his or her community, invariably they will show me their best -- the assets that they would want a company to see that is considering investing in operations there. But then I throw them for a bit of a loop: "Ok, now that I've seen your best, now show me your worst, the other side of town." I've never been refused. To get a more complete picture, I want to see a place from all angles. Chris Arnade left his position as a bond trader at Citibank in 2012. He was wealthy enough to not seek another Wall Street job but instead devoted his time to documenting "poverty and addiction." He drove all over the country, going into the parts of town people tol

BBA Economic Digest

I recently did a SWOT analysis for a rural community, where I noted that vacant, blighted buildings in the downtown was a problem that needed to be addressed. Vacant and blighted housing is not just an urban problem. I see it in rural areas and small towns, which can have a vacancy rate nearly twice as high as major metro areas. In thriving cities, abandoned structures are often quickly snapped up by investors. Not so in distressed cities and small towns — the very places that can least afford to fix the problem. Abandoned properties are expensive to police, drag down the value of surrounding properties, and reduce tax revenues. Detroit is spending $256 million in federal grants to tear down

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