Local Economic Development Agencies' Support for Construction and Demolition Recycling
Patterson, Lynn M.
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The construction and demolition (C and D) recycling industry creates economic opportunity through business activity; promotes equity through workforce training and partnerships; and helps to conserve natural resources through the reuse, remanufacturing, and recycling of C and D debris. While C and D recycling satisfies traditional local economic development goals, it also addresses broader goals of progressive, and sustainable local economic development. The general planning literature shows an increasing interest in sustainability; however, there have been fewer studies on sustainable local economic development initiatives. This research examines the current state of local economic development agency support for the C and D recycling industry as an economic development strategy. In doing so, the dissertation assembles the array of activities local economic development agencies used to support the industry; identifies distinguishing policy or contextual characteristics of agencies that actively supported the industry from those that did not; and assesses whether the agencies support for C and D recycling fit within the rational planning model. Using data from a national survey of local economic development agencies, the study categorizes the local economic development tools used to support the industry. Results show that a combination of traditional, progressive, and sustainable local economic development tools are adapted and newly created to satisfy the specific needs of this specialized industry. Multiple discriminant analyses identify key characteristics of the agencies that support C and D recycling. These characteristics include previous support for the general recycling industry, the presence and support of environmental enterprise zones and eco-industrial parks, and knowledge of local landfill capacity issues. Overall, the agencies that actively supported C and D recycling engage in activities associated with sustainable local economic development. The descriptive and statistical analyses are combined with the surveys qualitative responses to determine that local economic development agencies do not operate under a strict interpretation of the comprehensive rational planning model in their support of C and D recycling. Instead, local economic development agencies use modified rational and reactive planning strategies in their support of the industry. The study concludes with policy recommendations to increase local economic development agency support for C and D recycling.