The Role of Partnerships in Economic Development and Labor Markets in the United States
This paper describes the role of local partnerships in the delivery of workforce and economic development services in the United States. Partnerships include both public and private organizations and increasingly depend upon local business people for leadership. With grassroots organizations traditionally taking the lead in addressing local issues and a long history of decentralized government, it is not surprising that a labyrinth of partnerships characterize the provision of public services. This paper grew out of a study tour that the Upjohn Institute conducted in conjunction with the Local Employment and Economic Development (LEED) Committee of the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD). Delegates from 16 European countries visited nearly two dozen partnership organizations in the U.S. Midwest. The paper summarizes the history of local partnerships in the United States, tracks the separate evolution of workforce and economic development activities, describes the leadership roles of the federal and state governments in fostering partnerships, and provides case studies of current public-private partnerships that the delegates visited on the tour. The paper concludes by drawing lessons learned from the tour regarding the efficiency of partnerships, the efficiency of service delivery, the local management of programs, and the proper roles of federal, state, and local governments. A version of the paper appears in an OECD volume on partnerships entitled Local Partnerships for Better Governance, prepared by Sylvain Giguere
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