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Everything but the Kitchen Sink? Factors Associated with Local Economic Development Strategy Use

Collaboration with faculty from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Published in Economic Development Quarterly


Rubin (1988) argued communities “shoot anything that flies and claim anything that falls” in their efforts to attract businesses. Such a perspective implies local governments will use large numbers of strategies as they try “everything but the kitchen sink” to promote job creation and private investment. Conversely, Stokan (2003) claims localities are more selective in how they approach economic development, which implies there should be wide variation in the number of development strategies used across jurisdictions. Based on original survey data from North Carolina cities and counties of all sizes, the findings provide support for both explanations. The data show localities vary considerably with respect to the number of strategies they employ. Notably, variation in strategy use is associated with certain community characteristics including government capacity and development network strength. However, the data also reveal that communities are, on average, utilizing a relatively high number of strategies, lending some credence to Rubin’s theory.


From small business development to affordable housing to industrial recruitment, the menu of strategies a locality could deploy to promote economic growth are numerous. Two schools of thought prevail on how municipalities make decisions in this important area of public policy. Data collected through an original survey of North Carolina’s local governments show the complexity of the development process.


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Morgan, Jonathan, Hoyman, Michele, and Jamie McCall. 2019. “Everything but the Kitchen Sink? Factors Associated with Local Economic Development Strategy Use.” Economic Development Quarterly, 33(4), 267-278.

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