Specialization: Economic Development

Economic development planning seeks to build a stable economic base that preserves and raises a community or region’s standard of living through sustainably developing its human and physical infrastructure. Economic development planners address issues such as the following: How do we create resilient economies that can successfully adjust to restructuring and recover from economic or natural disasters? How can we improve the quantity and quality of jobs in a community? How can we ensure there are community economic benefits from proposed large-scale projects such as a proposed convention facility? What can we do to revitalize an area suffering from commercial or industrial decline? From the presence of brownfields? How can we promote entrepreneurship and technology start-up ventures? How can we use the tools of economic development to address inequalities between places and demographic groups?

While the broad fields of economic development overall is concerned with the promotion of jobs, businesses, land and infrastructure for community and regional growth, its practice from a planning and public policy perspective also incorporates issues of equity, access, distribution, and quality of life for individuals, communities, regions, and nations. The context for economic development changes continuously with shifts in economic structures, rapid technological development, increased globalization, climate change, and ongoing debate about the role and effectiveness of planning and public policy in tackling development issues.

The City of Atlanta, surrounding metro region, and state of Georgia are quintessential laboratories for students interested in the economic development planning. Further, Georgia Tech plays a major role in the state’s technology-based economic development as well as a larger role in developing many of the innovations that fundamentally reshape the global economy. The Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute is a major center for economic development assistance and research (where students frequently find graduate assistantships). There are numerous community and regional groups focused on economic development issues.

The many SCaRP graduates are practicing economic development planning in the metro area are a major resource for the concentration. Student interns and graduates with economic development concentrations find jobs in local, state and federal government, with non-governmental organizations (development authorities, community development organizations, business/community improvement district staff…), and with the private sector (large and small consulting firms, real estate developers…) The demand for economic development planners and policy analysts is present in strong and weak economic periods.

The economic development specialization gives students the opportunity to study the conceptual foundations of the field, learn key analytical techniques, and apply this knowledge to practical economic development issues in local, regional, national, and international contexts. Students learn how industrial restructuring and technological advances frame the possibilities for economic development, and how economic development is dependent upon conditions of land use, infrastructure, housing, and the environment.

Required courses in the Economic Development specialization are:

CP 6412 Foundations of Local Economic Development Planning and Policy

CP 6422 Economic Development Analysis and Practice Students must also take two additional courses (minimum of 12 credit hours total) in their particular interest area in economic development from the School of City and Regional Planning, the School of Public Policy, other Georgia Tech units, or at Georgia State University.

Available courses include:

CP 6432 Industrial Restructuring and Its Planning Implications

CP 6442 Equity, Social Justice, and Economic Development

CP 6452 Urban Development Policy (joint-listed as PUBP 6606)

CP 6351 Transportation and Economic Development (offered infrequently)

CP 6551 Spatial Analysis - Socioeconomics

CP 6611 Real Estate Finance and Development

PUBP 6604 Methods of Urban Policy Analysis and Practice

PUBP 6415 Technology, Regions, and Policy (offered biennially)

ECON 6360 Development Economics or ECON 8600 (GSU) Economics of Development (international course) Other related courses of interest to those studying economic development include those in community development, labor economics, urban economics, public finance, real estate, science and technology policy, housing, and international development.

Students can customize the electives they take in the economic development field, and also combine their interests in economic development with other concentrations. Core faculty in economic development include Professors Nancey Green Leigh, Paige Clayton and Brian An (Public Policy).

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