Abstract: The Political Economy of Regional Redevelopment: Business and Area Government in the Regeneration of the New England Economy

David Koistinen


From the 1920s through the 1980s, New England experienced repeated rounds of decline in core industries. Each episode of downsizing resulted in a concerted push to revitalize the local economy. The area's long experience with growth promotion provides a good opportunity to explore the evolving dynamics of regional redevelopment over the course of the twentieth century. Events in New England reveal both an important change and an important continuity in the political economy of redevelopment. The change involved the role of government, especially state government, in the campaign for growth. Over time, the states had an increasingly more important part in recovery work. During the 1920s and 1930s, the private sector dominated revitalization efforts, with state government playing a marginal role. By the late twentieth century, states had become the key local actors in the development domain. The continuity in regional redevelopment involved alignments within the business community on growth promotion. Corporate managers in certain industries enthusiastically supported development, while executives in other sectors were indifferent to, or even opposed to, such initiatives. These alignments were determined by the vested interests of the companies involved and remained stable over time.

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