Targeted Urban Investments to Improve Future Economic Outcomes

Fellows: Alejandra Caro, Matt Conway, Ben Green, Robert Manduca
Mentor: Tom Plagge
Project Partner: City of Memphis
[Project Blog Post] [Paper]

Cities must work within a limited budget, balancing revenues (taxes and fees) with the ability to deliver services and maintain infrastructure. Since 1970, the population of Memphis, Tennessee has increased by four percent while the geographical area has increased by 55 percent. The city would like to use data to make better policy and investment decisions around economic development and more productive delivery of services.

With data on city revenue and spending, we will help the City of Memphis develop a new system for informing policy and investment decisions. Our goal is to help the city map the productivity of its tax base and the related costs to deliver services. This will assist the city in understanding the return on past and future investments and in identifying more productive approaches to delivering services. If successful, the system could be implemented in cities across the United States and around the world to help governments get the most value out of their budget and find the best approaches for revitalizing blighted areas.