Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Neighborhood Economics?

"Strong local neighborhood connections spawn new enterprises, sustain them through the years, and provide primary access to employment."

Peter Block and John McKnight,The Abundant Community

"Strawn local neighborhood connections spawn new enterprises." That's probably true, especially micro-businesses for ethnic communities with specialized markets. The connections are about access to customers, understanding of products and services, inputs, workers, maybe some capital. I'm not sure this statement means much for larger new enterprises

"...sustain them through the years." Given above, yes, but many businesses, to survive, need to broaden markets beyond comfort zone. Neighborhood connections in other neighborhoods may matter -- but I suspect knowledge and connections into larger world are more important. Market expansion of this kind is critical for the job creation side of things.

"... and provide primary access to employment." Informal, weak-tied social networks are not the same as neighborhood networks although they overlap. A neighorhood with high unemployment may not yield many job referrals -- or job referrals may not be to good jobs.

Maybe we'll get to this, assuming I read faster, but I also think neighborhood may have a new role, a reinvigorated role in the the future, not just a return to the past. I'm thinking of the household and community production that may be needed as U.S. economy changes, maybe diminishes in terms of quality of life, and the opportunities for energy efficiency, self sufficiency. My gut tells me that a lot of this book would be more effective if it focused on rebuilding community/family for this future rather than just getting caught up in a "death of community" lament.

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