Donjek Projects: Upcoming Speaking

I'm working on the concluding phases of work on an urban park-oriented redevelopment analysis, a reuse study for a historic manufacturing building, and a feasibility study for a commercial land trust. As each comes to fruition, I look forward to sharing results with you in the coming weeks.

LC2 In the meantime, I'm preparing for two events where I will present as a panelist. On October 5, I will be in Washington, D.C. to participate in an intensive one-day conference on economic vitality, coordinated by the Living Cities Integration Initiative. I will be joining Tracey Nichols, Director of Economic Development, City of Cleveland; Olga Stella, Vice President of Business Development for the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation; Leslie Anderson, Executive Director of New Jersey Redevelopment; and Paul Graziano, Commissioner of Housing & Community Development for the City of Baltimore.

The following week, I look forward to walking down the street to the University of Minnesota's Saint Paul campus on October 12 for the 27th Annual Conference on Policy Analysis. The conference topic is this year focused on defining the public good and the role of government in the state; I will participate in a panel with Caren Dewar, Executive Director, Urban Land Institute-Minnesota; Ann Mulholland, Vice President with The Saint Paul Foundation; and Mark Vander Schaaf, Director of Community Planning and Development at the Metropolitan Council.

I'm looking forward to the opportunity to present in each of these forums; even more, anticipating all that my colleagues will have to say on the issues of urban economics and policy that form the core of my work.

Last: While I'm unable to attend (and post from) the Inner City Economic Summit to be held by the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City in Chicago on October 3-4, I hope readers present there will share a summary for the rest of our collective benefit.

Productivity and Design Merge in the Gated City

Cover3 Since his publication in the New York Times' Sunday Review this past weekend, Economist magazine correspondent Ryan Avent has been showered with digital ink following release of his short book, "The Gated City." Based on his Sunday excerpt, it's clear his fundamental argument is that land use and productivity are inextricable.


The policy arena is stocked with arguments over which strategy or which sector provides the most efficient return for job creation (for a sample, search "jobs per dollar" on Google – although, as this commentary indicates, your results will be different than mine).

This dialogue, however, does not usually consider the spatial issues involved. How many jobs, and of what type, are created across a city or region? Employers rely on a workforce that is trained and educated, able to reach the workplace reliably, and able to transport a product – by rail, by digital means, or other mode of movement. Employers and the economies of which they are part also rely on relationships that form networks around industries, innovations, or particular skill areas. Success or failure in each of these areas is all about how our cities are designed and how intensely infrastructure is used.

It's relatively simple to evaluate job creation initiatives if direct public expenditures and jobs ("full time equivalents") are the only terms examined. As I suggested a few months ago, Steven Johnson and Ed Glaeser illustrate this would miss a substantial part of the essence of why and where jobs are created. The last few days' eruption of interest in Avent's message indicates we're headed for a more nuanced, comprehensive view of how urban design and productivity are linked. That's a very good thing.

*Postscript: Thanks to Ryan Avent for including this short post in his list of commentary pieces on the Gated City. See the others here.