The Council on Metro Economies and the New American City convened at the 85th Annual Conference of Mayors in Miami Beach June 23 to hear from leading experts in the fields of economic development and inclusion.

Council on Metro Economies and the New American City

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, chair of the Council, began with an overview of the Council’s activities including a report on the Innovation District Working Group, a collaboration with the Brookings Institution. The working group met in first in Pittsburgh last October and St. Louis in April of 2017. Its findings were compiled in a toolkit released during the Sunday, June 25 plenary. Fischer also announced the launch of the 2017 DollarWise Summer Youth Contest, which encourages youth to complete an on-line financial literacy curriculum in conjunction with their summer job.

Jim Diffley of IHS Markit summarized his growth and job forecast for 2017. His findings are summarized as:

  • Real GDP growth will reach 2.3% in 2017 and 2.7% in 2018
  • The economy will add 2 million jobs in 2017, 1.4% payroll growth.
  • Manufacturing activity will be mixed across regions and sectors but will represent an improvement from a 2016 slowdown.
  • Housing activity will remain an important stimulus overall but will be more impactful in areas in the West and South.
  • Domestic migration is back to pre-recession levels, the Sunbelt benefits at the expense of the Midwest and Northeast. • Almost one-third of metros, 121, will see job growth exceed 2%.
  • For 60% of metros job growth will exceed 1%.
  • Job losses will occur in 53 (14%) of metros, mostly in the Midwest • In only 6 metros (3 in Illinois) do losses exceed 1,000 jobs.

The map below represents US metros and their projected 2017 job growth.

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Interise President Jean Horstman reviewed working models for helping small businesses achieve second stage growth. Her street level MBA creates cohorts of local small businesses working with experts and other members of the business community over time. The result over a ten year period is an average annual revenue growth of 7.5% and a 9.4% job growth. 41% of the companies participating in the program operate in low to moderate-income neighborhoods. Interise has a long history of working with the Small Business Administration to promote small business growth.

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Bank of America

Odalis Martinez, Bank of America Senior Vice President for Small Business Banking, highlighted Bank of America’s efforts in financing small businesses and Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs).  New small business loans for the bank grew 9% in 2016 – to more than $11.6 billion in new originations. B of A is also the largest investor in CDFIs with $1.5 billion in investments to 260 CDFI partners in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

International Council of Shopping Centers

Cynthia Stewart reviewed the state of play in the retail markets, which she said are undergoing fast-paced changes from retail real estate to consumer real estate. Nonetheless, traditional brick and mortar in-store sales still dominate, representing $4.2 trillion of sales in 2016, or 87.3% of total retail revenues. Other sales, including pure-play e-commerce, brick and mortar on-line sales, and catalog sales combined equal over $616 billion or 12.7% of total sales. Still, e-commerce is growing at a break-neck speed, with 64.9% in 2016, compared to 7.1% growth in in-store brick and mortar sales.

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Credit Karma

A key harbinger of these sales trends is millennials. Harris Qureshi of Credit Karma, working with the Council, would release soon a white paper on credit trends on millennials. In this session, he outlined the average credit scores and breakdown of debt in twenty major cities.

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The Home Builders Institute

John Courson, President and CEO of the of the Home Builders Institute (HBI) – the National Association of Home Builder’s (NAHB) educational arm – discussed the Institute’s efforts to provide training to underserved youth in the building industry. The Home Builders Institute provides students the skills and experience that they need for successful careers through pre-apprenticeship training, job placement services, mentoring, certification programs, textbooks, and curricula.


Prosperity Now

Andrea Levere, President of Prosperity Now (formally CFED) discussed her organization’s success in supporting Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites in cities throughout the U.S., and its efforts to increase the accessibility of the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit, and  Children’s Savings Accounts.

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The Computer and Communications Industry Association

Dave Macklin of the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), highlighted his organization’s work in promoting Free File – a free online service that allows tax filers the opportunity to file their federal and state (where available) tax returns for free. The CCIA worked with The U.S. Conference of Mayors during the 2017 tax season to encourage cities to take advantage of the online service and plans to expand its efforts in 2018.

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