By Tony Ditta

In the U.S., the federal government is investing in local economies. The Department of Commerce recently announced 12 regional tech hubs that will receive a total of $504 million in grants as part of the CHIPS Act. This program is part of a larger strategy by the Biden-Harris Administration to grow the economy from the “bottom up and middle out” with policies in the CHIPS Act as well as the Inflation Reduction Act and the Build Back Better Regional Challenge.

Reimagining the Economy had the opportunity to speak with leaders of economic development organizations (EDOs) in two of the twelve recipient regions for our Policy Works podcast. The first, Matt Hurlbutt, talked about his work as President and CEO of Greater Rochester Enterprise, which is part of the NY SMART I-Corridor Tech Hub region. The second, Rodrick Miller, was a Visiting Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School when he shared his experiences with regional economic development. He is now President and CEO of the Miami-Dade Beacon Council. Miami-Dade County will be receiving funds as part of the South Florida ClimateReady Tech Hub region.

Policy Works Podcast: Episode 2

Listen to our conversation with Matt Hurlbutt, President and CEO of Greater Rochester Enterprise.

Policy Works Podcast: Episode 3

Listen to our conversation with Rodrick Miller, President and CEO of the Miami-Dade Beacon Council.

Local economic development is the cornerstone of the Administration's economic strategy. It looks different in every part of the country as needs and capabilities vary from place to place, but the key feature is coordination: bringing together the public and private sectors to direct resources where they will be most useful. This means connecting local business leaders with policymakers at multiple levels — local, regional, and state — so they can promote an environment conducive to sustainable, inclusive growth: not just providing tax breaks or subsidies, but also fairer regulations and public inputs like infrastructure or workforce development programs.

Economic development organizations like Greater Rochester Enterprise and the Miami-Dade Beacon Council play an integral role in this process. Situated between the public and private sectors, they advocate for their communities to encourage investment and serve as a hub for business and government to collaborate on strategic goals. Hurlbutt describes his work as “connecting the dots”: between businesses to promote partnerships, between business and education to build workforces, and between business and governments to secure local incentives. The different often share similar goals; they want good jobs, environmental sustainability, and an economy that works for everyone. So, as Miller says, the task of EDOs is to know where the power is: who has the tools to get things done?

Of course, the answer to this question will be different in each community. This is why local economic development is so important and why EDOs operate at local or regional levels. Local orientation also allows EDOs to promote their area’s strengths. For example, Rochester houses the University of Rochester which confers up to 50% of degrees in optics in the US, and Miami-Dade County is well situated for global reach, especially into Latin America. The local focus also allows EDOs to fully engage with their communities and treat the residents as human beings — not just contributors to a bottom line. Miller says EDOs can “really understand what's at the soul of these communities.” And they can “focus on policies and programs that … capture, not only the economic impacts, but really get people's sense of pride and dignity.”

Bottom Up Bidenomics

"While the administration of policy is seldom dazzling enough to be accorded a rallying cry, “bottom up” might also be the mantra for the administrative apparatus undergirding the implementation of the programs that make up Bidenomics." Rohan Sandhu writes in Time. 

Read Next Post
View All Blog Posts