Unemployment, declining tax revenues and budget cuts have created continuing challenges in recent years for cities and towns in Pennsylvania -- and nationwide. But those trials also have sparked innovation as state and local leaders seek to redefine their economies.
A panel of experts on banking, politics and the state economy will discuss "Building the New Economy" at a forum slated for 7 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 26, at Franklin & Marshall College. The event, sponsored by F&M's Department of Economics, The Pennsylvania Project and the Public Banking Institute, will be held in the Bonchek Lecture Hall of the Ann & Richard Barshinger Life Sciences & Philosophy Building.
"The panelists will outline how innovative ideas applied at the local level can spur 'bottom-up' economic development in our communities," said F&M Professor of Economics Sean Flaherty, one of the event organizers. "I look forward in particular to the ensuing exchange of ideas among the panelists and the audience, which should make for an energizing evening of 'give-and-take.'"
During the forum, three speakers each will give a short talk and then answer questions from the audience. The panelists are:
F&M alumnus Mike Krauss '71, a founding director of the Public Banking Institute and chairman of The Pennsylvania Project. He will discuss "The Public Banking Imperative: Democratizing Our Economics and Politics." Krauss has been involved in international distribution and logistics, government and politics for more than 27 years. He is the author of the forthcoming novel "Pursuits of Happiness." (Photo provided by Mike Krauss)
Michael Shuman, author of "The Small Mart Revolution: How Local Businesses Are Beating the Global Competition." He will discuss "Creating Self-reliant Communities in the Global Age." Shuman also is author of "Dollars, Local Sense: How to Shift Your Money from Wall Street to Main Street and Achieve Real Prosperity." He is director of research and economic development at the Business Alliance for Local Living Economics in Washington state, director of research for Cutting Edge Capital in California, and a fellow of the Post Carbon Institute, also in California. (Photo provided by Michael Schuman)
Vaughn Spencer, the mayor of Reading, Pa. He will discuss "The Reading Initiative: A Report From The Front Lines. A teacher for 30 years in the Reading school district, Spencer was elected in 2011 at a time when Reading was facing the challenges of lost jobs, decreasing tax revenues, cutbacks in state and federal funds, and a surging population of young and poorly educated people. Spencer will talk about steps Reading is taking to improve the city's economy and create more opportunities for residents. (Photo provided by the City of Reading)
Krauss, who holds a bachelor's degree in government from F&M, said the event will be a forum for debate about new ideas for sustainable economic development, which he said is the key to broad-based prosperity in the United States.
"Each of our speakers brings a unique perspective," Krauss said. "Locally directed economic development is vital, but it must be funded. There must be affordable credit for business and entrepreneurs, students, families and local governments. We hope to make it clear that there are local banking and credit options that provide alternatives to funding that depends on government appropriations and programs. We are proposing partnerships with our local banking industry."