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Economic Development Policy Making Networks in the Cleveland and Detroit Regions, Working Paper 049 Open Access

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Both the Cleveland and Detroit regions have faced the decline of their manufacturing sectors. While neither has undergone a successful transformation, the Cleveland region has, by most accounts, been more active over a longer period of time in putting in place institutions, strategies, and policies to bring about regional economic development than has the Detroit region. This difference is often attributed to the presence of networks and partnerships among various public and, especially, private actors in the Cleveland region, while Detroit’s continued struggles have been attributed to, in part, the lack of an effective network for collaboration. While cooperation and networks have both been shown to contribute to policy making, there have been few investigations into the composition and characteristics of networks for regional economic development, especially within the Rust Belt. This paper advances that literature by comparing the reputational networks among influential economic development policy makers in the Detroit and Cleveland regions. Individuals were surveyed with regard to their participation in the regional economic development policy making network, and a formal network analysis was conducted. The properties of the resulting two networks offer evidence that the two regional economic development policy making networks differ – while both networks have approximately the same level of connectedness, different types of actors hold power and importance in the two regions, which may have consequences for the types of economic development policies pursued.

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