City leaders surveyed in the report cited new business startups (47 percent) and number of business expansions (43 percent) in particular as the most positive drivers of local economic conditions. Cities surveyed noted that negative drivers of local economic conditions include the skills alignment with employer needs (40 percent) and the availability of affordable housing (33 percent).
Given the importance of the skills gap as a negative driver of local economic conditions, the report details the extent to which cities are involved in workforce development, finding that more cities are actively engaging in workforce development activities than previously before. Traditionally, save for their participation on local workforce investment boards, workforce development has not been an area of leadership for city governments. Now, however, more than one in four (28 percent) city leaders surveyed report that their city is very involved in workforce development activities, with 42 percent saying they are somewhat involved. Of city leaders surveyed, 27 percent of local governments reported very little or no involvement in workforce development activities.
City participation in workforce development strategies typically comes in the form of communicating with the local business community about their workforce needs (63 percent of cities participating), connecting workforce development efforts to the city’s economic development efforts (63 percent), and attending and participation in meetings of the local workforce investment board (57 percent). The most common workforce development partners identified by the report are chambers of commerce (89 percent of cities reporting engagement), community colleges (79 percent), local businesses (64 percent), and four-year universities (60 percent).
To read more about Cities and Unequal Recovery, visit the National League of Cities: http://www.nlc.org/find-city-solutions/city-solutions-and-applied-research/economic-development/local-economic-conditions-2015