The practice of L&RED in the US is far from monolithic. As noted in Chapter One, examining the practices and funding mechanisms of L&RED organisations in the US presents some challenges. In area, Australia and the US are similar; however, based on sheer population differences, we were forced to look at a much smaller proportion of all L&RED groups in the US survey. There are thousands of L&RED organisations working to promote employment growth, business development, and economic diversification in the US. A 2000 publication issued by the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank (Wirtz, 2000) reported 891 L&RED agencies operating in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Montana – one agency for every 14,000 residents of these states. Of course, these are states with relatively low population densities, but even if this average incidence of L&RED organisations were doubled, that would suggest that more than 10,000 agencies are operating in the US.
Regional versus local in the US
As examined in earlier chapters, there are significant differences among the participating countries in this study regarding the meaning of the words ‘local’ and ‘regional’. In Chapter One, it was noted that ‘regional’ in the US more often has an urban connotation, particularly regarding cooperative efforts across local governments located in a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). This is, on average, correct. However, before examining L&RED organisations in any detail, especially when assessing their levels of cooperation with other agencies and groups, it is useful to take a closer look at what local and regional can mean in the US.
Practitioners and students in the US have no doubt examined economic and demographic data for an MSA. An MSA is comprised of one or more counties that the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has determined meet certain size criteria and share strong economic linkages. In June 2003, the OMB revised their definitions of these areas, describing Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs) as regions that must contain at least one urban area of more than 10,000 population. The new designation of Micropolitan Statistical Area (McSA) applies to CBSAs with less than 50,000 population. Consistent with previous definitions, McSAs must have at least one urban area with 50,000 or more residents. Surrounding counties are included in the MSA based on one or more of several criteria, including population density, the percentage of population that is ‘urban’, and commuting patterns.