Placemaking Redefined by a New Era of Federal Investment

Six tips for ensuring that new placed-based funding programs, such as the Build Back Better Regional Challenge, achieve the full potential of a new era of place-based federal investment.

2 minute read

December 12, 2022, 10:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Detroit, Michigan

Susan Montgomery / Shutterstock

The series of federal stimulus, infrastructure, and inflation bills that have been signed into law by presidents Trump and Biden since the beginning of the pandemic is unprecedented in many ways. According to a recent report by the Brookings Institution, the rare opportunity presented by this spate of new federal investments includes a new focus on place-based initiatives.

“Across the federal government, agencies are launching larger-scale, more in-depth initiatives for accelerating innovation, optimizing supply chains, mitigating climate change, and addressing demographic and geographic inequities,” write Joseph Parilla and Glencora Haskins.

The article cites the Build Back Better Regional Challenge (BBBRC) as the case in point. The Biden administration announced the winners of the BBBRC’s competitive grant process in September 2022, funding 21 projects in 24 states with grants between $25 million and $65 million. To describe the intended focus and effect of the BBBRC, Parilla and Haskins write: “These investments will support the local development of nationally critical technology clusters, and attempt to do so in ways that deliver economic opportunity to traditionally underserved people and communities.”

The article provides six policy design “keys” to unlock the potential of new place-based funding programs, informed by insights from the BBBRC so far, as listed below (with more details in the source article):

  1. Macro-relevant
  2. Micro-based
  3. Network-focused
  4. Competition-driven
  5. Leaning-enabled
  6. Rick-adjusted

The list and the article is taken from a full report published by Brookings in November [pdf].

Monday, November 28, 2022 in Brookings

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