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  The Planning Local Economic Development course provides an introduction to the context, theory, process and practice of local economic development, explicitly incorporating issues of sustainability. This is a graduate level course that is cross-listed between the School of City and Regional Planning and School of Public Policy (course numbers CP6412 and PUBP 6600). Dr. Leigh has been teaching this course at Georgia Tech since 1994. The course has three primary goals:

  • Orient students to the literature on economic development planning and policy.
  • Foster connections between students and the economic development community-at- large via guest speakers sharing their economic development expertise and career paths.
  • Provide service-learning opportunities shared with the rest of Georgia as Reports that examine current thinking and practice on fundamental local economic development topics.


  This class uses a nontraditional definition of economic development, one which sees economic development as more than economic growth/job and wealth creation. Instead, it defines economic development as a process that:

  • Increases quality of life & living standards
  • Decreases inequality and
  • Promotes sustainability


  Students explore a wide variety of topics related to economic development that include both traditional strategies as well as cutting edge research. A major theme throughout the semester is sustainability or promoting a green economy. Other topics focused on include politics and practices at the state, regional, local, and neighborhood level; human capital development; business development; financing tools and opportunities; supply and demand side approaches; redevelopment; and globalization.

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