Reynolds, Terrence , Ph.D.
American urban core cities have been in a crisis that commenced in the middle of the last century and has not abated. The outmigration of economically diverse populations and capital threatens the economic sustainability of the urban core. No American urban core city is an exemplar, escaping the effects of urban core outmigration, decay and disinvestment. The American urban core condition is a national failure.This thesis contends that federal urban policies have exacerbated the pressure of outmigration of urban populations and capital and contributed to a condition of urban core decline and decay. Central to this thesis is the contention that federal urban economic development policy is historically anchored upon a narrative of poverty intervention. Policies derived from the poverty intervention narrative utilize public resources to target individuals living in poverty or a geographical area of concentrated poverty. This policy narrative requires exclusivity of purpose, meaning that only poverty intervention is recognized as a valid public purpose for the allocation of public economic development resources. The goals and principles of poverty intervention are important societal goals and values for the use of governmental power and resources. However, the poverty intervention narrative, by focusing exclusively upon targeting individuals in poverty or geographic concentrations of poverty, ignores the economic sustainability needs of the urban core as a whole.An alternative narrative is emerging, the capital focused narrative. The capital focused narrative recognizes a valid public purpose for preserving and growing the urban core and for the allocation of public resources to attract capital for economically diverse and sustainable urban development initiatives. Policies derived from the capital focused narrative seek to reverse the American urban core crisis by attracting diverse economic populations and migrating capital to the urban core. This thesis argues that reforming federal urban economic development policy by employing the emerging capital focused narrative permits the evolution of federal policies to stem urban decay, attract investment, and respond to the economic sustainability needs of the American urban core.
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