What are Industrial Data? Setting the stage for an emerging industry study

by Supraja Sudharsan, Jennifer Clark, Thomas Lodato

This blog post is a product of the industrial data and regional economic development study currently being undertaken by Dr. Jennifer Clark and the team at the Center For Urban Innovation (CUI) including Supraja Sudharsan and Dr. Thomas Lodato. The study is being conducted in collaboration with the team at the Energy Policy and Innovation Center (EPICenter), including Dr. Tim Lieuwen, Dr. Richard Simmons, and Kerri Metz. The objective of the study is to delineate the emerging industry around industrial data (ID), and unpack its regional clustering characteristics.


Digitalization of products and processes has ensured that all equipment, processes, and their interactions in both the physical and digital space generate data. The rising ability of firms to handle so-called “big data,” and to convert them into useful products, services, and product-embedded services, is projected to galvanize legacy industry sectors in advanced economies. This is increasingly referred to as a fourth industrial revolution.

The Industrial Data and Regional Economic Development Study undertaken by the team at CUI, in collaboration with EPICenter, affirms the criticality of data in industries. By proposing and applying a definition for “industrial data” (ID), the study reifies the emerging industry around ID. This blog post is based on the first phase of research, which was completed in September 2017.

What are industrial data?

Industrial data are data obtained by measuring and assessing the performance of an industrial equipment during production, and while in operation. Consider aviation manufacturing. Data are generated during the manufacture of jet engines, from the manufacture and supply of avionics, from tools and equipment during aircraft assembly, and while these equipment are in operation during flight. These data come from different parts of the world, based on the global foot print of aviation supply chain, and flight operations. The data come in a variety of formats including text, images, written records of historical maintenance information, and more. They are obtained by measuring performance parameters (such as temperature, pressure, vibration) of industrial equipment, at varying frequencies [1].

In general, ID includes:

1) Data from advanced manufacturing industries, such as aviation and automotive industries, including equipment manufacturers that operate in these industries,
2) Data from energy generation,
3) Data from energy transmission and (non-consumer) distribution data, and
4) Data from equipment in operation, such as wind turbines following installation.

The generalized definition of ID and its sectoral delineation helps us in three ways. First, it compiles existing models of ID across a wide range of initiatives enunciated by public, private and hybrid organizations globally. Second, it enables us to disaggregate the actors, processes, and their relationships to trace an emerging ID production chain. Third, it reveals that the processes involved in ID production are leading to the evolution of new firms and services around ID, and an emerging industry around ID itself.

Competing models and value propositions of ID

By defining ID as data obtained by measuring as well as assessing the performance of an industrial equipment, we consider the sources and uses of ID across different models of ID, and their value for a wide range of stakeholders including firms, industries, regions, and society (see Tables 1 and 2).

Table 1 shows how the German concept of Industrie 4.0 undertakes a process-oriented approach to industrial data. It considers ID as the consequence of a hierarchical process that is differentiated from the previous phases of industrial revolution via the presence of cyber-physical systems. Similarly, General Electric’s industrial internet definition refers to the “integration of physical machinery with networked sensors and software.” Other initiatives based on concepts such as advanced industry and smart manufacturing define their models by the impact of ID on the composition of high-skilled workers and by the influence of ID on the time to decision-making in business. Moreover, as seen in Table 2, the initiatives also vary in how they value ID for firms, industries, regions, and nation-states. One instance of this is GE’s industrial internet initiative, which estimates that the business value of ID will be $225 billion by 2020.

By undertaking a generalized definition of ID, we ensure that the study encompasses both the process and outcome-based approaches, as evidenced above. This in turn allows us to study the entire ID production, and delineate associated actors, and processes, as well as their outcomes.

Table 1. Leading models that study industrial data production (authors’ analysis)

Model name (Initiative)

Model definition


Authors’ analysis of model approach

Industrie 4.0 A fourth industrial revolution arising from the development of cyber-physical systems in manufacturing


Technology and process-focused: Refers to a hierarchical process in the evolution of manufacturing
Industrial Internet Refers to the integration of hardware, software, and communication technologies in industries


Technology-focused: Refers to connections between technologies
Advanced industry “An industry’s R&D spending per worker must fall in the 80th percentile of industries or higher, exceeding $450 per worker. The share of workers in an industry whose occupations require a high degree of STEM knowledge must also be above the national average, or 21 percent of all workers.”


Outcome-focused: Refers to composition of workers in industry
Advanced Manufacturing “Manufacturing that entails rapid transfer of science and technology (S&T) into manufacturing products and processes.”


Technology and process-focused
Smart Manufacturing “Smart Manufacturing is the ability to solve existing and future problems via an open infrastructure that allows solutions to be implemented at the speed of business while creating advantaged value.”


Outcome-focused: Refers to a business model

Table 2. Conceptions of value from industrial data (authors’ analysis)



Source of Value

Asset Performance Management – monitor operations, predict failure, optimize performance.

[3], [7]

Business Value

Prediction of power outage and communication of the same to residents.


Societal Value

Prediction of improvement in productivity and jobs.


Regional economic development

Projection of opportunities in advanced and developing countries -US and Europe, South Korea and China are expected to be early takers of industrial big data solutions.


Geographic value

Investment in industrial big data products and processes is highest in Aviation, followed by Wind, Manufacturing, Rail, Power generation, distribution, Oil and Gas, and Mining industry, in the order listed.


Sectoral value

Delineating ID production

Figure 1 gives a general overview of the production process based on data in power generation. Data are collected from power generation assets, such as gas and wind turbines, associated controls, and the surrounding environment. Through strategic partnerships between technology providers, utility, equipment providers and others, data from different sources are aggregated, and integrated across software systems for analysis. Finally, they are used to monitor, analyze, and visualize, present and future equipment performance. Consequently, firms perform four types of operations using collected data:

1) Monitor data real time or otherwise,
2) Diagnose equipment performance by comparing them to historical and baseline conditions,
3) Predict future performance based on this analysis/prescribe how to respond to predicted outcome, and
4) Optimize equipment performance based on predicted outcome.

Figure 1. Industrial Data Production, by authors

Tracing an emerging industry

Our analysis reveals that ID do not simply refer to digitalization of existing industries. The process of ID production, beginning from data collection to storage to analysis and use, are similar to other production processes. That is, similar to say, an automotive or textile production process, ID production has an input phase, the input then undergoes transformation, to be distributed and consumed by end-users. This leads us to the conclusion that the production process associated with ID is leading to the emergence of an industry around ID itself. Where a firm lies in pursuing the ID production functions, and the extent of human-computing interaction that is involved, reflects the extent of the firm’s evolution within the ID industry.

Future directions: Building on the definition of industrial data, the team is currently conducting interviews with large and small firms operating across the ID production process in various industries. Through this, we hope to learn more about the conditions under which the ID industry is evolving, and how countries and regions may develop competitive advantage within this space. The results of our study will be published in the near future, in collaboration with EPICenter.


[1] Boria, S., 2015. Developing Smart Tools for the Airbus Factory of the Future, INDUSTRIAL INTERNET IN ACTION CASE STUDY. Industrial Internet Consortium.

Plataine, 2017. Case Study: Harbin Hafei Airbus. Plataine, Waltham, MA.

GE Aviation, 2016. How GE’s Predix Is Taking Aviation Productivity to New Levels | GE Aviation.

[2] Davies, R., 2015. Industry 4.0. Digitalisation for productivity and growth. European Parliament Briefing 10.

[3] Evans, P.C., Annunziata, M., 2012. Industrial Internet : Pushing the Boundaries of Minds and Machines.

Accenture, GE, 2015. Industrial Internet Insights Report. Industrial Insights Report 1–35.

[4] Muro, M., Rothwell, J., Andes, S., Fikri, K., Kulkarni, S., 2015. America’s Advanced Industries: What They Are, Where They Are, and Why They Matter, Brookings Advanced Industries Project. Brookings Institution.

[5] Subcommittee of Advanced Manufacturing, 2016. ADVANCED MANUFACTURING: A Snapshot of Priority Technology Areas Across the Federal Government. The White House, Washington D.C.

[6] McKewen, E., 2015. CMTC Manufacturing Blog. What is Smart Manufacturing? (Part 1A).

[7] Courtney, B., 2014. Industrial big data analytics: The present and future. InTech 61.

[8] TechNet, SusSpec Alliance, DBL Partners, 2016. Unlocking Grid Data (White Paper).

[9] Manyika, J., Chui, M., Bisson, P., Woetzel, J., Dobbs, R., Bughin, J., Aharon, D., 2015. The Internet of Things: Mapping the value beyond the hype. McKinsey Glob. Inst. 144. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-05029-4_7.


Dr. Clark Speaks at the Regional Studies Association: The Evolutionary Economic Geography and the Policy Nexus

GT CUI’s Director Jennifer Clark will be speaking at the Regional Studies Association’s Annual Conference in Dublin, Ireland on June 6th. Dr. Clark, who is from the School of Public Policy at the Georgia Institute of Technology, will join her colleagues Bjørn T. Asheim, University of Stavanger, Norway and Lund University, Sweden; Ron Boschma, Utrecht University, the Netherlands; Martin Henning, University of Gothenburg, Sweden, Andy Pike, Newcastle University, UK; Mark Deakin, Edinburgh Napier University, UK; and Nicos Komninos, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki to discuss Smart Specialisation and Evolutionary Economic Geography: Essential Symbiosis in Order to Advance the Agenda? The panel will be held on Tuesday 06/06/2017, 11:30-13:00 in Emmet Theatre (TCD Conference Centre – Arts Building) at Trinity College in Dublin.

The panel was organized by Dieter F. Kogler, University College Dublin, Ireland; Luca Mora, Politecnico di Milano, Italy; and Mark Deakin, Edinburgh Napier University, UK and will be moderated by Dieter Kogler.

The session is part of the RSA Conference’s Discuss and Debates series and will explore how recent progress in the field of Evolutionary Economic Geography can support the ambiguous European project of “Smart Specialisation”.  Here the focus is directed at science and technology domains and in particular at their presence and connectedness at a given place.  However, much of the evidence supporting Smart Specialisation theories is anecdotal.

Evolutionary Economic Geography on the other hand is working on a number of systematic approaches capable of identifying the local knowledge bases, while also measuring how relatedness among such domains advances over time in a path-dependent fashion.

Based on this the following idea has been put forward: if one manages to quantify domain and connectedness, ceteris paribus, one should also be able to predict future trajectories of regional development, and thus be able to advise regions in what areas of economic activity to invest on order to create a competitive edge that rests on local scientific and technological expertise that is difficult to replicate elsewhere.

Panelists will discuss the feasibility of such an idea in light of recent theoretical and empirical advancements.

Dr. Clark will also speak at a pre-conference workshop on Evolutionary Economic Geography at University College Dublin on Sunday, June 4th on how Evolutionary Economic Geography has (or has not) influenced science and innovation policy and future prospects for building buildings between the academic work of EEG and the policy design and implementation schemes defining investment in science and innovation.


Dr. Jennifer Clark at the American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting in Boston


by Jennifer Clark and Thomas Lodato

170403 blog post
Courtesy University of Oxford

The annual meeting of the American Association of Geographers (AAG) convenes in Boston, Massachusetts from April 5th-9th, 2017. The event features nearly 7000 presentations, posters, workshops, and field trips by leading scholars, experts, and researchers. Founded in 1904, the AAG is a nonprofit, scientific and educational society aimed at advancing the understanding, study and importance of geography and related fields. The AAG currently has more than 10,000 members from nearly 100 countries working in geography or related fields in the public, private, and academic sectors. Members are able to engage by attending the AAG Annual Meetings, publishing in the association’s scholarly journals (Annals of the American Association of GeographersThe Professional Geographer, the AAG Review of Books and GeoHumanities), and participating in the association’s affinity groups and more than 60 specialty groups and committees.

Georgia Tech Center for Urban Innovation Director and School of Public Policy Associate Professor, Dr. Jennifer Clark, will be in attendance presenting her work on the “contested market space” of smart cities in the paper Smart Cities: Remaking Markets and Manufacturing Open Innovation Spaces on Thursday, April 6th.

On April 7th Dr. Clark is speaking on urban and regional development past, present, and future on a panel celebrating the 40th anniversary of Newcastle University’s Centre for Urban and Regional Development Studies (CURDS).

As chair of Economic Geography Specialty Group (EGSG) and an editor of Regional Studies—the flagship journal of the Regional Studies Association (RSA)—Dr. Clark has co-organized a series sessions on economic geography, co-sponsored by EGSG and RSA. These sessions range from knowledge and firm networks in regional economies to innovation processes to the impact of policy and planning on urban economic activities.

Also on Friday, Dr. Clark will be chairing a panel on the life, work, and legacy of the late Dr. Susan Christopherson of Cornell University, her former adviser, co-author and frequent collaborator. The panel will include Professor Meric Gertler, President of the University of Toronto; Professor Amy Glasmeier of MIT; Professor Jane Pollard of Newcastle University; Professor Michael Storper of UCLA, the LSE, and ‘Sciences Po’ [Institut des Sciences Politiques]; Shanti Gamper-Rabindran of the University of Pittsburgh; and Professor Katharine Rankin of the University of Toronto.

On Tuesday, Dr. Clark will attend a pre-AAG workshop on ‘Clusters and related diversification’ at the Center for International Development at Harvard Kennedy School. The workshop will focus on the role of inter-industry relatedness, clusters, and product spaces in regional economic development.

In February of 2017, Dr. Clark was elected to the American Association of Geographer’s (AAG) Nominating Committee, one of only two nationally elected committees within AAG. Members of the Nominating Committee are uniquely responsible for nominating the AAG President, Vice President and National Councilors who determine the organization’s priorities and strategic direction.

Below is a rundown of the various activities Dr. Clark will be participating in as a presenter or chair. More information on the economic geography sessions by searching “economic geography” the online program or conference mobile app. (An asterisk [*] denotes the presenting author.)

Economic Geography VII – Technological Diffusion and the Economic Geography of New Production Spaces
Thursday, 4/6/2017, from 10:00 AM – 11:40 AM in Back Bay Ballroom A, Sheraton, Second Floor

Dieter Franz Kogler – University College Dublin
Pierre-Alexandre Balland – Utrecht University
Jennifer Clark – Georgia Institute of Technology 

Dieter Franz Kogler – University College Dublin 


10:00 AM
*Laura Wolf-Powers – Center for Urban Research, City University of New York
Marc Doussard – University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Greg Schrock – Portland State University
Makers and the New Manufacturing Policy

10:20 AM
*Marc Doussard – University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Laura Wolf-Powers, PhD – CUNY Graduate Center
Greg Schrcok, PhD – Portland State University
Max Eisenburger – University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The Maker’s World of Production: Scaling up from Tinkering to Manufacturing in Three U.S. Cities

10:40 AM
*Mariachiara Barzotto – University of Birmingham
Occupational Mix for Sustainable and Inclusive Regions

11:00 AM
*Jennifer Clark – Georgia Institute of Technology
Smart Cities: Remaking Markets and Manufacturing Open Innovation Spaces

CURDS 40th Anniversary – urban and regional development: retrospect and prospect
Thursday, 4/6/2017, from 8:00 AM – 9:40 AM in New Hampshire, Marriott, Fifth Floor

Jane S. Pollard – Newcastle University
Danny Mackinnon – Newcastle University
Andy Pike – Newcastle University 

Jane S. Pollard – Newcastle University 

Ron Boschma – Utrecht University
Jennifer Clark – Georgia Institute of Technology
Maryann Feldman
Danny Mackinnon – Newcastle University
Jamie Peck – University of British Columbia 

Session Description:
Urban and regional development theory and policy confronts tumultuous times in terms of economic shifts, social and spatial inequalities, environmental tensions and geo-political turbulence across the world. Recognising and celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Centre for Urban and Regional Development Studies (CURDS) at Newcastle University, this panel debate reflects upon the retrospect and considers the prospect of urban and regional development. Connecting with the central research themes of CURDS work on ‘people and places’, ‘innovation and technology’, ‘finance and services’ and ‘institutions and governance’ over four decades, the aim of the dialogue is to better understand/elucidate where urban and regional development studies have come from in conceptual, theoretical, empirical and policy terms and to outline where its future directions are/might be heading.

Celebrating Susan Christopherson: A Panel Honoring her Life, Work, and Leadership in Economic Geography
Friday, 4/7/2017, from 1:20 PM – 3:00 PM in Room 109, Hynes, Plaza Level

Organizer and Chair:
Jennifer Clark – Georgia Institute of Technology

Session Description:
Susan Christopherson, an economic geographer and professor of city and regional planning known for her scholarly work and expertise on regional economic development, died December 14, 2016 of cancer. This panel celebrates and honors Susan’s accomplishments and leadership in the field of economic geography. The panel includes discussions of Susan’s contributions by several colleagues and collaborators from throughout her career as well as an opportunity for attendees to share their own experiences with Susan and her work.

In 2016 Susan received the Sir Peter Hall Contribution to the Field Award from the Regional Studies Association. In making the award, Professor Ron Martin of Cambridge University noted, “Over the years Susan has been a leading beacon in regional development studies, contributing some of the landmark papers in the field, and exerting a formative influence on both the theory and practice of economic geography internationally.” In 2015, Christopherson received the American Association of Geographers Lifetime Achievement award.

Susan’s research and teaching focused on economic development, labor markets, and location patterns in new media and film, advanced manufacturing, and resource extraction industries. She coauthored Remaking Regional Economies: Power, Labor, and Firm Strategies in the Knowledge Economy, winner of the 2009 Regional Studies Association Best Book Award. She published more than 100 articles and policy reports over the course of her career and served as an editor and on the editorial boards of several leading journals (including Regional Studies) and was also editor of the Regional Studies Association’s Regions and Cities Book Series.

Susan Christopherson was born March 20, 1947 in St. Paul, Minnesota.  She earned her bachelor’s degree in urban studies and a master’s in geography from the University of Minnesota. Susan earned her doctorate from the University of California-Berkeley in 1983.

Susan joined the faculty at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York in 1987. She was appointed Chair of Cornell’s Department of City and Regional Planning in 2014. Susan was the first woman to be promoted to full professor in city and regional planning at Cornell, and the first woman to chair the department in its nearly 80-year history.

Economic Geography III – Planning, Policy, Institutions, and Economic Performance
Wednesday, 4/5/2017, from 12:40 PM – 2:20 PM in Back Bay Ballroom A, Sheraton, Second Floor

Dieter Franz Kogler – University College Dublin
Jennifer Clark – Georgia Institute of Technology
Peter Kedron – Oklahoma State University 

Jennifer Clark – Georgia Institute of Technology 


12:40 PM
*Jun Du – Aston University
Tomasz Mickiewicz, Professor – Aston University
Ying Zhou, Dr. – Birmingham University
Productivity, Entrepreneurs and Big Firms in Shenzhen and Shanghai: Two Cities, Two Tales

1:00 PM
*Helen Lawton Smith – Birkbeck University of London
Sharmistha Bagchi-Sen – Department of Geography, SUNY-Buffalo
Emergence and convergence in a Bio-region in the UK: the ‘Golden Research Triangle’ in London and the South East

1:20 PM
*Donald Anthony Planey – Geography, University Of Illinois, Urbana Champain – Urbana, IL
Chicagoland and the Planning Imperative

1:40 PM
*Patrick Kilfoil – McGill University
Measuring the Impact of Spatial Planning Policies on the Economic Performance of Metropolitan Regions in the European Union


Economic Geography IX – Novelty, Access, Diffusion and Networks in Regional and Sectoral Development
Thursday, 4/6/2017, from 3:20 PM – 5:00 PM in Back Bay Ballroom A, Sheraton, Second Floor

Dieter Franz Kogler – University College Dublin
Jennifer Clark – Georgia Institute of Technology
Thomas Kemeny – University of Southampton 

Jennifer Clark – Georgia Institute of Technology 


3:20 PM
*Peter Kedron – Oklahoma State University
Dieter Kogler – University College Dublin
The Spatial Diffusion of Innovation in Renewable Energy: The Effects of Proximity of Biofuel Patenting

3:40 PM
*Tamás Sebestyén – MTA-PTE Innovation and Economic Growth Research Group
Attila Varga – University of Pécs
Knowledge networks in regional development: An agent-based model and its application

4:00 PM
*Giuseppe Calignano – UiS Business School – University of Stavanger
Rune Dahl Fitjar – UiS Business School – University of Stavanger
Dieter Franz Kogler – School of Geography Planning Environmental Policy – University College Dublin
Firm networks and knowledge production in a southern Italian aerospace district

Neil Lee – London School of Economics and Political Science
*Davide Luca – Harvard University
The big-city bias in credit markets: Evidence from firm perception’s in 100 countries

4:40 PM
*Teresa Farinha Fernandes – Utrecht University
Miguel Amaral – IN+ Center for Innovation, Technology and Policy Research, Lisboa University
Nuno Ferreira – IN+ Center for Innovation, Technology and Policy Research, Lisboa University
Pierre-Alexandre Balland – Utrecht University
Andrea Morrison – Utrecht University
Jobs relatedness and employment structure renewal in the Aeronautics

Economic Geography V – Intersections, Relations, Routines, and Collaborations in Innovation Processes
Wednesday, 4/5/2017, from 4:40 PM – 6:20 PM in Back Bay Ballroom A, Sheraton, Second Floor

Dieter Franz Kogler – University College Dublin
Peter Kedron – Oklahoma State University
Pierre-Alexandre Balland – Utrecht University 

Jennifer Clark – Georgia Institute of Technology 


4:40 PM
*Richard Shearmur – McGill University
David Doloreux – HEC Montréal
The nature of interactions between KIBS innovators and KIBS providers during the innovation process: does it alter depending on geographic context?

5:00 PM
Christian R Østergaard – Department of Business and Management, Aalborg University
Ina Drejer – Department of Business and Management, Aalborg University
The Role of Mobility and Employee-Driven Relations for University-Industry Collaboration on Innovation

5:20 PM
*Nina Hjertvikrem – University of Stavanger
Research Networks and Regional Differences in Innovation Activities

5:40 PM
*Ole Bergesen, PhD Research Fellow – University of Stavanger
Ragnar Tveterås, Professor – University of Stavanger
From Knowledge to Innovation: Firms´ Internal Skills, Collaboration Choices and Innovative Activity

6:00 PM
*Lukas Ernst Vogelgsang –
Open Routines in Creative Collaboration

Revisiting Atlanta’s 45-Year Reputation as the “Black Mecca”

By Todd M. Michney

This blogpost is in commemoration of Black History Month, a tradition started in 1926 by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) and which the Georgia Institute of Technology observes by sponsoring an annual lecture.

In 1971 Ebony magazine, the nation’s premier and most widely-read African American monthly serial, published an article by staff writer Phyl (Phyllis) Garland titled “Atlanta: Black Mecca of the South.”  Although it was not the first U.S. city to which that label was applied[1], the moniker stuck.  Coming on the eve of Maynard Jackson’s ascent to the mayoralty, the implications of Atlanta’s singular achievement and rising prominence among Southern cities, embodied in the term “mecca,” fit well with the city’s rapidly growing economy and carefully-managed image of steady progress toward racial equality.  Furthermore, as alluded to by the author herself, Garland’s article appeared at a time when opportunities for African Americans in larger Northern and Western metropolises were looking far less promising, with deindustrialization setting in and frustrations in many such cities’ black neighborhoods becoming manifest in a succession of riot-torn, “long, hot summers.”

First page of the original Ebony article “Atlanta: Black Mecca of the South,” courtesy Google Books/ Johnson Publishing.

Atlanta’s reputation as a Black Mecca has proven durable, although numerous commentators over the years have pointed out where the city falls short – some stridently – insofar as the benefits of economic growth have not been distributed equally either to African American Atlantans relative to whites, or among them as a group. This past November, Georgia State University’s Law School hosted a symposium entitled “Still the Black Mecca?  Race, Social Inequality, and Urban Displacement in 21st Century Atlanta,” featuring contributions from speakers including scholars, activists, and other community stakeholders. In a subsequent interview, one of the event’s co-organizers, Dr. Kali-Ashet Amen, explained its planners’ main underlying concern:  “[T]his symposium was explicitly about equity – not equal opportunity, not access, not ‘diversity’ – but rather, racial equity; which is to say, we are concerned with the evaluation of fairness and justice in both the policies and the business deals that are being brokered in the name of urban progress.”


Revisiting Garland’s original article offers us a chance to assess how Atlanta has lived up to the Black Mecca label over the past four decades, from our contemporary standpoint where so much has changed, even as striking continuities remain. While we readily recall her hopeful tone – which in fact characterized most of the accompanying articles in that issue of Ebony on the theme of “The South Today” – we typically forget that Garland’s subtitle was equivocal:  “Racial peace, prosperity are mixed with problems in this bustling boomtown.” Garland was neither a native booster of, nor a naïve believer in Atlanta’s supposed racial progressivism. Born in Pennsylvania and having started her career reporting on civil rights topics for the black-owned Pittsburgh Courier (famous for its militant “Double V” campaign during World War II), she went South in 1965 after joining Ebony, where she interviewed Fannie Lou Hamer among other black female activists in Mississippi, and reported on the early political gains from the Voting Rights Act. Just months before her “Atlanta: Black Mecca” article appeared, Garland had published another piece of reportage on the city, treating the campaign by the Community Coalition on Broadcasting which successfully pressured local radio stations to hire more African Americans in positions of authority. Incidentally, a striking contemporary parallel to this effort is a current lawsuit filed by black employees of CNN alleging the existence of a “glass ceiling” in hiring and promotion at this Atlanta-based company.

Maynard Jackson, courtesy of Google Books/Johnson Publishing

Garland’s tentative rendition of Atlanta as a mecca for black politics came as the election of its first African American mayor was looking increasingly likely – she mentioned a perception that Jackson had been “campaigning unofficially” ever since becoming vice-mayor – in no small part due to the city’s black proportion reaching a majority. An attempt to delay this eventuality had been the underlying impetus behind Mayor William Hartsfield’s successful push to annex large portions of unincorporated Fulton County in 1952, which tripled the size of Atlanta’s geographic area. “Now a healthy 51 per cent of the population, they have made their power felt on all levels of local government and anticipate the day when that slim margin will be so solidly reinforced that they might push open even bigger official doors,” Garland wrote. Among the notable recent political gains she mentioned were the election to a statehouse seat of civil rights and anti-Vietnam war activist Julian Bond, formerly with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and who attended Morehouse College; around the time the article appeared, he had co-founded the Southern Poverty Law Center. Still on the horizon was the entry into local politics of two other civil rights veterans:  John Lewis, also with SNCC, and Andrew Young, the former executive director of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Young had been instrumental in organizing SCLC’s “citizenship schools” that increased voter registration in rural areas; in 1972 he became the first African American elected to represent Georgia in Congress since Reconstruction, and in 1981 he would succeed Maynard Jackson as Atlanta’s second black mayor. Lewis – already famous as a Freedom Rider as well as for his role in the 1965 Selma march – had relocated to Atlanta in 1967 to head up the Voter Education Project. Following his election to Atlanta’s City Council in 1981, Lewis defeated Bond in a bitter 1986 contest for Young’s former 5th U.S. Congressional seat that Lewis still holds today. While Atlanta was not the first major U.S. city to elect an African American mayor, its unbroken succession of black mayoral leadership since 1973 is the longest-running in the country, with Detroit recently having broken a comparable streak in 2013. However, with the city’s African American population in decline due to black suburbanization and white gentrification, the likelihood of Atlanta continuing this tradition is no longer assured. In fact, changing demographics raise the question of whether the post-civil rights model of black political leadership in Atlanta and elsewhere may be moribund.

Atlanta’s black-owned businesses constituted perhaps the most hopeful note in Garland’s “Black Mecca” article, as she referenced a recently-coined Nixonian phrase in concluding “black capitalism has been practiced . . . [in Atlanta] long before it was given a name.” Receiving particular attention for having just completed its twelve-story headquarters was the Citizens Trust Co., founded in 1921 by Heman Perry, a black businessman and real estate developer of the then-suburban Washington Park neighborhood. Currently the fourth-largest black-owned bank in the country, Citizens Trust remains true to its roots of lending on homes, and recently saw a spike in new account openings as a result of Atlanta hip-hop artist and social activist Killer Mike’s #BankBlack campaign. Yet despite such efforts, African American-owned financial institutions in Atlanta and elsewhere have struggled to remain solvent; Mutual Federal Savings and Loan Co., another institution mentioned in the article and a longtime landmark on the city’s historic Auburn Avenue, did not fare as well, closing in 2000. Alonzo Herndon, Atlanta’s first African American millionaire and founder of the Atlanta Life Insurance Co. – currently the second-largest such black-owned firm in the country – also received mention, alongside T.M. Alexander, another pioneer in that industry who had famously insured cars owned by Montgomery Bus Boycott supporters when their coverage was punitively discontinued. Garland also mentioned the city’s foremost black builder of the 1950s, Walter H. “Chief” Aiken, as well as the up-and-coming black developer of the 1960s, Herman J. Russell. Russell’s was among those black-owned construction companies that benefited from Mayor Jackson’s expansion of affirmative action programs (begun under his predecessor Sam Massell), which ensured that one-quarter of contracts for the Hartsfield Airport expansion were reserved for minority-owned firms. An article in Black Enterprise several years later lauded Russell, even as it hinted at the fragility of the city’s more than 2,000 black-owned businesses at the time. Strikingly, while Russell’s company remains among Atlanta’s top five largest African American firms along with Citizens Trust, a food service business and two car dealerships now share that distinction. Furthermore, Atlanta’s black business enterprises are increasingly more prominently associated with the recording, film, and television industry, symbolized in the latter case by the success of Donald Glover’s “Atlanta” series on FX.

Courtesy Google Books/Johnson Publishing

Finally, even as Garland celebrated Atlanta’s upwardly-mobile black middle class, she pointed to the glaring ways that working-class and poor African Americans were being left out of the city’s growing economy. One photo featured a husband and wife who both were elementary school teachers, noting “[h]ome ownership is the great pride of black Atlantans . . . [but] most of these people are not rich . . . [p]eople are killing themselves to maintain a certain standard of living,”[2] pictured left, while another depicted a young child in Vine City, “an inner-city poverty pocket untouched by Atlanta’s reputation for affluence” (pictured below and right).

Courtesy Google Books/Johnson Publishing

 Even as Garland pointed to “verdant neighborhoods that are the true pride and joy of the city’s black citizenry” – Collier Heights, Cascade Heights, and Peyton Forest (this last one the site of modern Atlanta’s arguably most embarrassing incident of racial intolerance) – she noted “[t]here are 160,000 people living in poverty here and two-thirds of them are black.”  State Representative Julian Bond summarized the situation: “This is the best place in the United States for a black [person] if you’re middle-class and have a college degree, but if you’re poor, it’s just like Birmingham, Jackson or any other place.” Furthermore, white flight from outlying city neighborhoods was an ongoing problem, leading Garland to conclude “Evidently Atlanta is not quite ready for integrated housing.” Demographic turnover additionally had ramifications for the city’s ability to achieve public school integration, which despite an initial move in 1961 toward compliance with the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board ruling, was essentially stalled; a 1968 report had noted that 98 percent of African American children still attended all-black schools, and 65 percent of public elementary schools were “totally segregated.” Metro Atlanta still exhibits divergent outcomes for African Americans on the basis of class. On the one hand, suburban Clayton and Fayette are two of only seven counties in the entire country where blacks’ average income exceeds that of whites; at the same time, the metropolitan area ranks near the bottom among U.S. cities in terms of its potential for upward mobility. There is evidence that Atlanta’s elimination of its entire traditional public housing inventory further exacerbated inequality among African Americans, and while there is still an argument to be made that the city constitutes a “mecca” for the black middle class, even the most prosperous have been disproportionately impacted by the Great Recession, with many families experiencing downward mobility. Meanwhile, the failures of school desegregation have followed African Americans to the suburbs.


Much has changed in Atlanta since 1971 when Garland wrote the article that cemented the city’s reputation as a “Black Mecca.” Not only has white population decline reversed since 1990; Latinos and Asians now constitute an increasingly significant and growing share.  LGBTQ Atlantans, newly visible at the time the original article appeared, now stand at the forefront of the contemporary local civil rights movement. In the words of Dr. Kali-Ashet Amen, mentioned above as a co-organizer of the recent “Still the Black Mecca?” symposium: “[F]or the black mecca to be true to its name in the present moment, we are going to need a practical vision of multiracial, queer, and immigrant equity that is grounded in political commitments to black and brown thriving. Without that kind of intentionality, and multiracial mobilizing toward those ends, the black mecca idea loses all foundation.” With the benefit of a historical perspective – making clear that this concept from the outset was never understood so much as an established reality as a work-in-progress – we can better chart where we need to move, in order to rectify past injustices and make our city a more equitable place for everyone.


[1] New York (specifically Harlem), Washington, DC as the first black-majority city, and even New Orleans had previously been designated as the “colored” or “Negro mecca”; note that some white observers used the term in a derogatory way.

[2] On similar strategies by dual-income black couples elsewhere, see Todd M. Michney, Surrogate Suburbs: Black Upward Mobility and Neighborhood Change in Cleveland, 1900-1980 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2017).

An Interview with Todd Michney about “Surrogate Suburbs”

By Todd Michney & Thomas Lodato

Dr. Todd Michney is a visiting assistant professor in the School of History and Sociology at the Georgia Institute of Technology, a member of the research team of the Center for Urban Innovation, and now the author of “Surrogate Suburbs: Black Upward Mobility and Neighborhood Change in Cleveland, 1900–1980” available in March 2017 on The University of North Carolina Press. The following is an interview with Dr. Michney about his forthcoming book.

Thomas: Thanks for taking the time to talk to me about your book. The title of the book is really intriguing, and seems like a good place to start the conversation. What you mean by “surrogate suburbs”? What does surrogate connote in this context, and how do these neighborhoods differ from typical suburbs?


Todd: Our understanding of “how the suburbs happened” -– with federal, state, and local policies like redlining and zoning shaping unequal access on the basis of race –- has grown dramatically in the past two decades. Small pockets of African American settlement did exist on the suburban periphery from the early twentieth century on, a phenomenon explored by historians like Andrew Wiese. However, the vast majority of African Americans were prevented from living in suburbs, which actually became more exclusive with the advent of mass suburbanization in the 1940s and 1950s, when large numbers of middle and working class whites were enabled to become homeowners through preferential financing arrangements like FHA- and VA-insured mortgages. Therefore, for nearly the entire period I cover in the book, upwardly-mobile middle class blacks searching for better-quality housing outside of crowded, inner-city neighborhoods gravitated to the “outer city,” peripheral neighborhoods that took on significance as what I call “surrogate suburbs.” Arriving as early as 1900 and initially settling in compact enclaves, they strove to build sustainable communities and expanded into previously all-white areas in the decades after World War II. Many such outlying city neighborhoods contained recently-built, single-family housing, further underlining the significance of these places for middle-class African Americans as “surrogate suburbs.” This situation continued until the civil rights reforms of the 1960s began to open up at least some bona fide suburbs to black homebuyers, a dynamic that gained momentum by the late 1970s. Today just over half of African Americans live in the suburbs, and while a middle-class (often elderly) remnant still lives in the outer-city areas I study, many are disproportionately burdened with foreclosures and other challenges also facing some “inner ring” suburbs since the Great Recession.

Thomas: Your book offers a counter-narrative to how many historians explain the experiences of black people during this period of urban change and discriminatory planning practices. Could you briefly contextualize who and what you are responding to, and why you think these accounts are insufficient?

Todd: The policies I mentioned earlier -– along with federally-funded urban redevelopment plans and interstate highways that displaced large numbers of mostly poor, nonwhite urban residents while facilitating white suburbanization -– have been explicated by historians like Arnold Hirsch and Thomas Sugrue as determinative: these scholars argued that African Americans were essentially powerless in the face of large-scale structural forces, which were compounded even further by institutionalized racial discrimination in employment and the antagonism of white residents –- who in cities like Chicago, Detroit, Birmingham, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and yes, Atlanta, not infrequently resorted to violence in attempting to maintain racial segregation. This scholarship was incredibly important, and extremely valuable because it served to counteract popular narratives blaming the racially-polarizing 1960s (and black residents themselves) for urban “decline.” However, I argue that this rendition underestimates the agency and ability of upwardly-mobile African Americans to formulate creative strategies for acquiring land, financing, and housing, and for building and maintaining communities at the urban periphery. In Cleveland, which is my case study, some such methods included securing financing through black-owned insurance companies, tapping the expertise of African American building tradesmen, allying with politically-progressive whites and lobbying the city administration for equal protection (in securing access to public swimming pools, for example), and leveraging white fears about property values to generate rapid turnover of newer, desirable housing. Some such strategies proved controversial, and even middle class blacks faced discrimination and the creeping effects of disinvestment that eventually reached these outer-city neighborhoods. However, African American residents of these areas maintained their viability at least until 1980 and surely did not imagine them as what Arnold Hirsch termed a “second ghetto” enabled by racially discriminatory housing policy.

Thomas: I know you are a native Clevelander. Beyond living in the area, how did your experience growing up in Cleveland influence your research in terms how you understand black upward mobility or the particular angle you present?

Todd: Probably my most formative early experiences here came through my father who worked as a teacher and guidance counselor in the Cleveland Public Schools, specifically in the overwhelmingly-black East Side neighborhoods that I would ultimately come to study. Two of his older co-workers who became dear family friends were typical of the home-owning black middle class I profile in the book: dual-income families with working wives, which was actually an economic strategy upwardly-mobile African Americans pioneered before it became mainstream. One of the husbands had been a chauffeur starting in the 1930s, a service job but well-paid with considerable responsibility entailing proximity to wealthy and powerful whites; driving for the local gas company, he purchased stock shares that along with his wife’s work as a teacher’s aide cemented their economic security. I also attended a Catholic grade school for three years which was about one-third black, being located in Shaker Heights, nationally known for its race relations initiatives since becoming a destination for upwardly-mobile African Americans in the late 1950s; and, I grew up in the suburban Orange School district which has a historic African American enclave in Woodmere, as well as a large Jewish population. In Cleveland among other cities, Jewish neighborhoods frequently transitioned to become black ones, a dynamic that was especially pronounced because Cleveland not only had one of the largest Jewish populations of any major city, it had the second-highest percentage of Jewish population after New York.

Thomas: As you mention, the book provides an account of black upward mobility that does not simply paint black residents as victims of structural forces, such as the well-known practice of redlining. Instead, you seek to historicize how black residents navigated the social, political, and financial landscape of Cleveland to own land, establish neighborhoods, and countermand segregation. As such, agency is an important concept for you, and comes to the fore through a host of strategies and tactics employed by residents. Could you provide a few instances of how residents both exercised and understood their agency?

Todd: Before answering the question, I want to provide a little background for where the evidence came from. Besides my conventional training as a historian, I benefitted from nearly five years’ work as an archivist, which made me proficient at using organizational records and personal papers; my source base for the book is quite a bit more “manuscript intensive” even than many other similar 20th century historical monographs. I also learned to conduct oral histories, which allowed me to ask questions of informants about topics not covered in the written record; in all, I conducted about seventy-five interviews with current and former neighborhood residents. Working at the Western Reserve Historical Society also familiarized me with doing genealogical research and specifically sources like the U.S. Census, city directories, and marriage and death records; becoming interested in how African Americans acquired land and property, I went further and taught myself to use public records like deeds, mortgages, and building permits that can reveal the contours of ordinary people’s lives. Learning to use GIS, I used these data sources to map African American settlement and homeownership patterns with unprecedented precision. It also allowed me to illustrate black homeseekers’ agency and visualize their housing choices which might not otherwise have been so readily apparent.


I found numerous examples of African Americans exercising agency in various ways, over nearly the entire course of the 20th century. These included purchasing land before race-based deed restrictions could be applied, and tapping all available financing streams –- even profit-minded whites willing to issue them mortgages. Researching the individuals involved, I concluded some of these transactions came through face-to-face work and business relations –- the wife of a white dentist with offices in Cleveland’s main, inner-city black residential district lending to (presumably) one of his clients for a house in an outlying African American settlement, for example. A number of black men used creative self-employment –- purchasing a truck for hauling being a notable one -– to circumnavigate the racially-discriminatory job market. And in the decades after World War II when the neighborhoods I study became overwhelmingly African American, organized middle-class residents formulated an intensely local, nearly all-encompassing reform agenda based around quality-of-life issues, chalking up some notable successes such as restricting the availability of liquor and winning traffic safety and infrastructural improvements.

Thomas: As you well know, Atlanta has complicated racial history, much of which is still evident in the current shape of the city, from roads abruptly changing names to placement of highways and parks. One current controversy deals with the BeltLine, a light-rail line that will circle the city that the New York Times recently referred to as “a glorified sidewalk”. From the beginning, many have criticized the BeltLine because of its “lopsided investment” that neglects historically black neighborhoods. Recently two prominent figures in shaping the BeltLine stepped down because of the lack of affordable housing initially-planned-but-seemingly-forgotten as a priority. Given your research and recent move to Atlanta, could you reflect on this current development project in light of your book?

Todd: One theme to emerge from my research is the value African Americans have placed on green space (parks, playgrounds), as well as the idea that recreation could provide a healthy outlet for youth who otherwise might resort to “unwholesome” activities. This older middle-class worldview may seem a bit naïve and outdated now, but there is a line of reasoning with continuity to today’s understanding of the BeltLine as providing an unqualified good in terms of recreational space and green infrastructure. Gentrification in Cleveland (as compared to Atlanta) is limited to certain neighborhoods having historical cachet, and does not result in the same degree of population displacement because there is still a substantial oversupply of housing in the city and metropolitan area as a whole. The neighborhoods I cover in Surrogate Suburbs are not seeing a substantial influx of younger, more affluent buyers, although there are a few developments of rehabilitated historic properties and new townhouses that are attracting mainly young black professionals. There is also a push to install more bicycle lanes as an eco-friendly form of transport that may constitute a parallel to what we’re currently seeing in Atlanta.

Thomas: This summer prominent Black Lives Matters supporter, political activist, and rapper Michael Render (aka Killer Mike) advocated that people move money to black-own financial institutions, such as Citizens Trust Bank (based in Atlanta) in order to put pressure on governments, politicians, and the private sector to address claims of systemic injustice (including police violence) targeting people of color. In your book, you mention the role of black financial institutions in breaking down de facto segregation. Could you explain how these financial institutions fostered such change?

Todd: Excellent to mention the example of Citizens Trust, which put up the money to build quite a few Atlanta subdivisions for black middle-class buyers.  In Cleveland, African American-owned financial institutions also provided crucial lifelines to a small but significant portion of the community despite being somewhat fragile. There were several black-owned Cleveland banks and mortgage companies in the pre-Great Depression era, one of which purchased a large tract of land in the city’s southeastern corner that offered African American buyers better life opportunities, not to mention its significance in setting the future vectors of black population expansion into the metro area’s southeastern suburbs. Although these institutions went under as a result of the Depression, a more stable one (Quincy Savings & Loan Co.) emerged in the post-World War II era, which made many loans that helped expand black access to new neighborhoods, including in suburbs like Shaker Heights. Black-owned insurance companies in Cleveland and elsewhere also frequently financed mortgages when mainstream banks were unwilling to do so. Interestingly, these companies typically saw themselves as business-minded and not necessarily obligated to attack the segregated housing market of the time. Quincy’s bank director, asked whether that institution might refuse to do business with white-controlled banks in order to leverage fairer lending practices, said “we’re not trying to do any race relations job,” but rather to make a profit for their investors. In other words, he was confident that the purchasing power of the African American buyers whose home loans they approved, as well as the investors who purchased stock in the company could not help but contribute toward rectifying the situation. Although this seems overly optimistic in retrospect, it was a common mentality among upwardly-mobile middle class blacks during the period I study, especially in the 1950s and early 1960s. It also did not preclude civil rights activity –- another one of Cleveland’s black city councilmen, who introduced a fair housing ordinance, also sat on Quincy’s board of directors at the time.

Thomas: Now that you have finished this book, what’s next? How are you carrying over your research interests into new projects and publications?

Todd: In completing the book I became especially intrigued by Southern-trained black building tradesmen, many of whom migrated north starting in the World War I era and who encountered discrimination in the white-dominated building trades, yet still provided hundreds of homes plus built institutions like black churches and fraternal lodges. In my next project, I expect to explore the kinds of training they received at historically-black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and how black builders and developers successfully operated in the racially-segregated housing markets of the pre-civil rights era. One of the country’s most successful black builders was based right here in Atlanta: W.H. (“Chief”) Aiken. I recently learned of an African American-owned construction firm, founded in the 1950s, that built numerous homes in the Bankhead area, and I hope to interview family members who still run a successor firm.

Thomas: Todd, thanks so much for taking time to answer my questions.

The Handbook of Manufacturing Industries in the World Economy (2015): Now Available in Paperback

by Jennifer Clark

manufacturing-front-cover The Handbook of Manufacturing Industries in the World Economy, edited by John Bryson of the Birmingham Business School, Jennifer Clark of the Georgia Institute of Technology, and Vida Vanchan of Buffalo State is now available in a paperback edition.

The Handbook of Manufacturing Industries in the World Economy provides a critical and multi-disciplinary state-of-the-art review and analysis of current manufacturing processes, practices and policies. Expanding our knowledge and understanding of production and innovation, this collection demonstrates that manufacturing continues to matter in the world economy.

The contributors, including scholars ranging from engineering to policy to economic geography, cover manufacturing policy and the revival of the industrial base in the US, UK and Canada and engage national and regional strategies for implementing advanced manufacturing policies. Questions of economic resilience in the wake of the recent recession are asked, and industry and firm case studies are utilized in an international comparative context. Applying a wide range of international cases from the US, EU, Australia and Asia, this approach allows readers to view transformations in production systems and processes across sectors, technologies and industries.

Students, scholars and policymakers in the fields of public policy, economic geography, city and regional planning, and business and management will find this collection invaluable in understanding how firms and industries adapt, through dynamic and design-driven strategies, to produce for established and emerging markets.

Chapters highlight how firms and industries modify existing processes to produce for established and emerging markets through dynamic and design-driven strategies. This approach allows readers to view transformations in production systems and processes across sectors, technologies and industries.

In the foreword, Sir Mike Gregory from the University of Cambridge, UK comments, “This book represents a major contribution to our thinking about modern manufacturing industries – and is not just timely, it is long overdue! The authors have done an outstanding job in bringing to bear a range of multi-disciplinary perspectives on a domain which all too often suffers from rather narrow disciplinary analyses. Ranging from engineering to social science and drawing on examples from the US, Europe and Asia, the book provides not only a wealth of fact and illustration but a rich landscape to inform those charged with industrial policy and manufacturing strategies.”

In his book review in Economic Geography, Douglas Gress wrote, ‘In [The]Handbook of Manufacturing Industries in the World Economy, editors Bryson, Clark, and Vanchan offer up a welcome addition to the manufacturing literature replete with valuable contributions from immensely competent researchers . . . The strengths of the Handbook are immediately apparent, and include the fact that contributions are provided by seasoned scholars, active scholars in mid-career, and budding scholars alike. The editors have thus ensured that the Handbook is well grounded while remaining topically fresh.’

Frank Giarratani, Center for Industry Studies, University of Pittsburgh further commented on the book that, ‘As industry practitioners know well from experience, generalization is hard to come by. Whether it’s manufacturing, services, or something in between, it’s the details that seem to matter most when it comes to determining outcomes. The value in this book is enormous because details tell the stories across a diverse set of industries. I applaud the editors and authors on their substantial achievement. Manufacturing and related supply chains are dynamic, and this book is rich with information that offers deeper understanding about the processes involved.’

The book is available from the publisher, Edward Elgar, as well as other venues such as Amazon.com.

The book, organized into five sections and over thirty chapters, includes the following contributions:

Manufacturing Matters: Space, Place, Time and Production
Jennifer Clark, John R. Bryson and Vida Vanchan


  1. Manufacturing Management in Theory and Practice
    Paul L. Forrester
  1. Manufacturing and Labor
    Sally Weller
  1. How Does Financialization Affect Manufacturing Investment? Preliminary Evidence from the US and UK
    Susan Christopherson
  1. Manufacturing Logistics
    Peter V. Hall
  1. Reshoring and the ‘Manufacturing Moment’
    Margaret Cowell and John Provo
  1. Relocation of Production Activities and Underlying Social Dynamics: An Analytical Framework based on a Canadian Perspective
    Patrice Jalette
  1. Tool-less Manufacture: Digital Fabrication, 3D Printing and the Third Industrial Revolution
    Michael Ward
  1. Engineering and Manufacturing: Concurrent Maturation of xRL
    Ben Wang, William C. Kessler and Andrew Dugenske
  1. Energy and Manufacturing: Technology and Policy Transformations and Challenges
    Marilyn A. Brown and Gyungwon Kim
  1. Design and Manufacturing: The Competitiveness of American, European and Chinese Industrial Design Companies
    Vida Vanchan and John R. Bryson
  1. Intellectual Property and Patents: Knowledge Creation and Diffusion
    Dieter F. Kogler


  1. Manufacturing Textile Futures: Innovation, Adaptation and the UK Textiles Industry
    Megan Ronayne
  1. Finding a Future for the US Furniture Industry
    Susan Walcott
  1. New Geographies of Advanced Manufacturing: The Case of Machine Tools
    Ronald V. Kalafsky
  1. Farm Machinery: A Changing Path to Feed the World
    Dawn M. Drake
  1. Hidden in Plain Sight: The North American Optics and Photonics Industry
    Jennifer Clark
  1. Traditional and Emerging Markets in the Global Steel Supply Chain
    Carey Durkin Treado
  1. Intermediate Manufacturing: Profit, Dependency and Value Attainment in Supply Chains
    Rachel Mulhall
  1. Aerospace Manufacturing: Past, Present and Future
    Colin G. Drury
  1. Manufacturing Stoke: Emergence, Transformation and Consolidation in the Surfboard Industry
    Andrew Warren and Chris Gibson
  1. Migrant Manufacturing: Translocal Production and the Establishment of a Polish Bakery in Birmingham, UK
    Catherine Harris
  1. Skoda Auto: The Transformation from a Domestic to a Tier Two Lead Firm
    Petr Pavlínek
  1. Samsung: Restructuring, Innovation, and Global Networks
    Sam Ock Park


  1. Stability Amid Industrial Change: The Geography of U.S. Deindustrialization since 1980
    Marc Doussard and Greg Schrock
  1. Searching for Advanced Manufacturing in the United Kingdom and United States: Definitions, Measurement and Public Policy
    Finbarr Livesey
  1. National Manufacturing Policy, Local Real Estate Markets, and the Missing Region: Prospects for Urban Industrial Development in the US
    Laura Wolf-Powers
  1. The City and Industry: Deurbanizing Manufacturing in New York City?
    Lynn McCormick
  1. Manufacturing in the Knowledge Economy: Innovation in Low-tech Industries
    Teis Hansen and Lars Winther
  1. Crafting a Comeback: Cultivating an Innovative Ecosystem in Mature Regions
    Maryann Feldman and Lauren Lanahan
  1. From Skill Mismatch to Reinterpretation: Challenges and Solutions for Manufacturing Worker Retention and Recruitment
    Nichola J. Lowe

Regeneration Economies: Manufacturing as the Next Industrial Revolution
Jennifer Clark, John R. Bryson and Vida Vanchan

Is it Time for a North America Week of Cities and Regions? Capturing the Potential of Urban Innovation Through Distributed Networks

by Jennifer Clark


Since 2003, the European Union’s Committee of the Regions has convened local, regional, national, European, and global decision-makers and experts in Brussels each October for the European Week of Cities and Regions — more than 100 workshops, debates, exhibitions, and networking opportunities. Working with organizing partners like the European Commission’s DG for Regional Policy and the Regional Studies Association, the European Week of Cities and Regions attracts over 6000 participants.

The goal of these annual meetings is to share innovative policies and projects across the cities and regions of EU member states through direct exchange rather than the top-down replication of the models that filter up from cities and regions to national and EU experts and only then diffuse back down to cities and regions.  Instead, the Week of Cities and Regions allows local policy experts to share success stories, challenges, and models directly with each other while simultaneously learning from national and international experts.  In other words, the European Week of Cities and Regions has, more than a decade after its first iteration, become a predictable and regular opportunity for policy researchers and designers, as well as those tasked with policy implementation, to check in and check out what works, what doesn’t, and focus on tailoring broad national and regional goals for local implementation.

In 2015, the Center for Urban Innovation’s Director, Jennifer Clark, was invited to talk in Brussels at that year’s European Week of Regions and Cities. Dr. Clark spoke on ‘Working Regions’: Rethinking Regional Manufacturing Policy, during a panel themed around “Rethinking regional-level industrial policies for the ‘new manufacturing.'” The talk highlighted analysis and policies discussed in her 2013 book, Working Regions: Reconnecting Innovation and Production in the Knowledge Economy. Working Regions focuses on policy aimed at building sustainable and resilient regional economies in the wake of the global recession. Using examples of four ‘working regions’ — regions where research and design functions and manufacturing still coexist in the same cities — the book argues for a new approach to regional economic development. It does this by highlighting policies that foster innovation and manufacturing in small firms, focus research centers on pushing innovation down the supply chain, and support dynamic, design-driven firm networks.

For the 2016 European Week of Cities and Regions, Dr. Clark was also invited to speak on the a panel themed: Is EU manufacturing ready for Industry 4.0? on October 13th at the European Commission. The panel is organized by Professor Lisa DePropis from the Birmingham Business School at the University of Birmingham and includes Professors Patrizio Bianchi and Steffen Kinkel as well as Dr. Clark. The entire schedule for the European Week of Cities and Regions is available here.

The panel will focus on emerging themes and regional policy issues around manufacturing and Industry 4.0. In 2015, the European Commission (DG for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs) and the European Parliament started to raise awareness that a new manufacturing model was emerging: this is referred to as Industry 4.0, or smart manufacturing. Technological change, digitalization, and a new demand are driving a ‘production organisation revolution’ that is redefining the nature of the manufacturing sector and its contribution to the wider economy.

Industry 4.0 is argued to mean more servitized — that is, with increased value due to an added service component — and customized manufacturing goods, as well as the pervasive exploitation of key enabling technologies across all sectors. Industry 4.0 is believed to offer a unique opportunity to upgrade EU industrial capability, to reshore competencies and functions, and to repopulate advanced industry systems across regions to secure jobs and prosperity. Despite the hype on Industry 4.0, it is still unclear what the triggers and drivers are in the EU context, and also what its constraints and headwinds might be. Speakers will discuss what it means and what it will take to align EU regions and EU manufacturing sectors to Industry 4.0.

Now, it is true that the EU, as an organization, has been exceedingly active in urban and regional policy design and implementation. For example, the EU’s Cohesion Policies have long sought to promote sustainable growth across EU regions and mitigate inequalities.  Recent regional policies include the Smart Specialisation (SP3) and Industry 4.0/smart manufacturing.  The US has often left urban and regional policy innovation to the state and local level. What these panels about these particular topics illustrate are the ways in which national policy priorities are necessarily connected to local and regional implementation.  And what’s more, they show how that implementation can be more effective when coordinated at the policy design phase, not simply assessed after deployment.

The benefits to the US of engaging in a similar approach — exchanging innovative policy models for urban and regional growth and development — is worth considering, as is its potential advantages for its neighbors, Canada and Mexico. The benefits of that knowledge exchange are well understood in the broader policy community. We at the Center for Urban Innovation have observed and documented the proliferation of ad hoc policy diffusion networks over the past half-decade across the US (and internationally). Examples include the Bloomberg Foundation’s Innovation Delivery Teams, WeWorkCities, the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities, the City Energy Project, and many more.

This ad hoc approach tends to privilege certain places and certain policy priorities.  In other words, the participants and the policies promoted are selective rather than representative. Perhaps it is time to create a formal, predictable structure for this exchange of project models and innovative approaches to urban and regional governance.  The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has moved in this direction with its support of smart cities initiatives, through the launch of city-university partnerships organized through the MetroLab Network.  This week, the White House also announced the Local Frontiers track at the White House Frontiers Conference, in which we will participate. This track is another example of a step in the direction paved by the Week of Cities and Regions. Such efforts signal an awareness and recognition of the value of convenings similar to those seen in the EU.  The model already exists for a Week of Cities and Regions, and it is a model with a decade long track record of successful knowledge exchange. Is it time for a North America Week of Cities and Regions? It seems we have reached the moment for capturing the promise and potential of urban innovation by acknowledging, valuing, and enabling the work of urban and regional policy professionals across the US by creating our own annual convening of the people who design and conduct policy in our cities and regions.

Immigration in Georgia: The GIRN And “Welcoming Cities” Forum

By Anna Joo Kim, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
School of City & Regional Planning
Georgia Institute of Technology

Atlanta envisions itself a new Global City (Sassen, 2000), with the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport—the world’s busiest—a hub of economic development, spurred by the addition of about 250,000 new immigrants from India, South Korea, Mexico, Ethiopia, and other countries between 2000 and 2010. Data from the 1990, 2000, and 2010 census surveys indicate that the metropolitan area has become more African American, more Latino/Hispanic, and more Asian each year. Population growth in Georgia over the last 30 years has been largely driven by minority groups settlement patterns; and we saw the addition of Georgia’s first ever “majority-minority” county, with Gwinnett County joining 78 other counties in the United States that reflect a nation-wide “racial shift” – expanding the impact of immigrant residential preferences beyond traditional gateway cities like New York, Boston, Chicago, or Los Angeles.

Distribution of Racial and Ethnic Groups in the Atlanta Metro Region. Source: ARC Snapshot of the Region (March 2013).

How do cities that have not been traditional immigrant destinations adjust and adapt to new immigrants, new cultures, and new languages? Welcoming America, a national initiative helping cities develop policies and programs for welcoming new immigrants to their new homes, explains how to “Build a Nation of Neighbors” by incorporating diverse peoples in a variety of ways. Welcoming America helps cities make the most of their diversity and create a sense of belonging.

“It’s about the seed and the soil. If you are a new person coming into a community, a lot of the attention has been paid on the newcomer, watering the seed, helping the newcomer adapt, but we should also pay attention to the soil. Our goal is to create a broader community that is fertile ground for the new person to be successful. So we help communities answer questions about improving the soil, making the community stronger. Fertile soil makes communities more successful for everyone – not just newcomers” –- Rachel Peric, Deputy Director, Welcoming America

Georgia is at a national nexus of new immigration (Hernandez-Leon & Zuniga, 2002), and Atlanta has emerged as one of the few cities in the South seeking to welcome immigrants and embrace this demographic change (Welcoming America Immigrant Integration Initiative, 2013).

“We are trying to build this movement in the South, and lead this movement in the South, and make it natural and “doable.” In 2014 Mayor Reed commissioned a group of stakeholders, a body of people of diverse backgrounds, diverse ethnicities – to answer the question: What would make Atlanta a more welcoming city: what can we do at a policy level, at the community level, on a social level, that would make Atlanta a more welcoming city for immigrants? — Maria Azuri, Director of Programs, Welcoming Atlanta and Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs

But where Georgia has added over 50,000 immigrants in recent years (2010-2014), the foreign-born population of the City of Atlanta itself increased only by about 1000 persons. The vast majority of immigrant groups (across origins: European, Latin American, Asian, and African) are immigrating directly to the suburbs and fringes (older, inner ring suburbs) of the Atlanta MSA, with greatest growth occurring in Gwinnett County, parts of North DeKalb County, and a rapidly growing immigrant concentration to Clayton County (particularly the Forrest Park area).

It is suburban places that experience the most immigrant-driven growth and population change (Brookings, 2014), and reflect the ongoing national preference for suburban areas in general. Singer’s work at the Brookings Institute (2015) has revealed the Atlanta MSA’s national relative classification as a “major-emerging” immigrant gateway. The fastest contemporary growth rates belong to the major-emerging gateways (Atlanta, Austin, Charlotte, Las Vegas, Orlando, and Phoenix); together they comprise 8 percent of the total foreign-born population in 2014. But Atlanta’s immigrant communities are still markedly more oriented to the urban/urbanizing metropolitan statistical area compared to state residents overall; where the Atlanta MSA composes about half of Georgia’s total population, more than 75% of the state’s total foreign born population are drawn to suburbs within the MSA (which housed 689,361 of the 909,002 foreign-born persons within Georgia in 2010).

With the context of recent, rapid, and diverse immigrant population growth in the Atlanta region, a group of researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia State University, and Kennesaw State University have launched a collaborative research network across the three universities. This group will study this new population and economic growth and the impact of immigration to Georgia and other emergent immigrant destinations. Dr. Cathy Yang Liu (Georgia State University) recently convened the first meeting of the three universities in the public forum “Welcoming Cities – A Dialogue Between Research & Policy” with presentations by partners Welcoming Atlanta (Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs) and Welcoming America. Topics at this event included the City of Norcross, Georgia’s recent efforts at immigrant inclusion, the recently-performedLatino Community Needs Assessment of Georgia, local-government-level initiatives and migration patterns, and the multiple scales encountered in the immigrant experience. For more on the scholarship presented at this event or the Georgia Immigration Research Network (GIRN)’s other recent activities, see http://urbaninnovation.gatech.edu/projects/immigrant-community-studio, or contact the author at anna.kim@gatech.edu.

Ivan Allen Jr. and the Roots of Modern Atlanta

By Todd M. Michney

Ivan Allen mayoral office
Mayor Ivan Allen shortly after taking office in 1961. Image courtesy of the Ivan Allen Jr. Digital Collection, Georgia Institute of Technology

As mayor of Atlanta from 1962 to 1970, Ivan Allen Jr.’s legacy looms large.  Long before Allen, of course, local business and political leaders engaged in boosterism and pushed economic development, carefully managing the city’s image amid sometimes tense race relations.  From the choice of a phoenix and “Resurgens” (Latin for “Rising Again”) as the symbol and slogan of rebuilding in the immediate post-Civil War period; to eager promotion of the New South paradigm as a way toward racial “peace,” best symbolized by the 1895 Cotton States Exposition (with Booker T. Washington seeming to agree); to worries about negative publicity as a result of international reporting on the horrific 1906 race riot; to the launch of “Forward Atlanta,” a 1925 advertising campaign that persuaded numerous companies to establish their headquarters in the city, Atlanta has long been about self-promotion.  While certainly a political innovator, Allen’s basic approach was to continue along the path laid out by his predecessor William B. Hartsfield – which as explained by historian Kevin Kruse, was to enlist middle-class whites in a coalition with African Americans to support gradual civil rights reforms as evidence of progress, moderation, and modernity.  After all, it was Hartsfield who in 1958 had coined the phrase of Atlanta as a “City Too Busy to Hate” amid a climate of rising tension that culminated in the bombing of a Reform Jewish Temple that same year.

Ivan Allen 1963 cartoon
1963 editorial cartoon by Charles Bardowski showing Allen as a cautious architect of Atlanta’s rising civil rights edifice, with African Americans in a supportive but clearly subordinate role. Image courtesy of the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia

Ivan Allen, who passed in 2003, garnered much acclaim over the years for his comparative racial liberalism in an era fraught with growing controversies over the South’s and the country’s legacy of white supremacy and racial inequality.  Considering the intransigence of most white Southern politicians in the face of a growing civil rights movement, many of Allen’s actions were commendable.  Despite having previously voiced segregationist sentiments in a 1957 gubernatorial campaign, he actively courted African American support in 1961 to defeat the blatantly racist Lester Maddox, and carried through on his campaign promises to hire Atlanta’s first black firemen and desegregate the city’s parks and pools; strikingly, he ordered the removal of race-specific signage from city offices on his first day as mayor.  Allen sponsored meetings at City Hall with the Atlanta Summit Leadership Conference, a coalition of local civil rights groups, soon after its formation in 1963, and managed to organize an interracial celebratory banquet after native son Martin Luther King, Jr. won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, over the skepticism of many prominent whites.

Ivan Allen Summerhill 1966
Mayor Allen at the scene of rioting in Atlanta’s Summerhill neighborhood in September 1966, waiting his turn to address the crowd after student activist Joseph Means. Image courtesy of the Ivan Allen Jr. Digital Collection, Georgia Institute of Technology

But some black Atlantans were already impatient with the slow pace of change by the time that Allen took office.  African American students had launched a widespread sit-in movement to desegregate establishments serving the public in 1960; in fact, as a result of this activism, Allen as head of the Chamber of Commerce had negotiated an agreement to initiate the desegregation of downtown businesses in tandem with the city’s public schools.  In 1962, Allen accommodated the wishes of white residents in southwest Atlanta by building a barricade across Peyton Road, which they hoped would slow the pace of African American home purchases in the area; ordered removed by court order, he later regretted the resulting damage done to Atlanta’s reputation.  In 1963, at President John F. Kennedy’s urging, Allen became the only mayor of a major Southern city to testify in favor of a federal law guaranteeing equal access to public accommodations like restaurants and hotels –- although it should be recalled that he favored allowing individual municipalities to voluntarily desegregate, even while admitting that progress in Atlanta had been slow, and recognizing that local businesses would have little incentive to integrate without any legal requirement.

But it is perhaps Allen’s economic development priorities that had the greatest lasting impact, with the trajectory he charted stretching even into our present.  With his roots in the business community, Allen envisioned the transformation of Atlanta from a regional commercial hub to national and even international prominence.  Like Hartsfield before him, he utilized new federal programs like urban renewal to build highways and civic facilities intended to shore up downtown property values and boost tourism.  Projects like a new stadium that successfully attracted Atlanta’s first professional baseball team, along with a combined civic center and auditorium, represented the city’s new modern face; however, these projects specifically targeted for demolition older, higher-density neighborhoods that were disproportionately African American, thereby exacerbating a scarcity of affordable housing and an already tense racial climate.  In the summer of 1966, Mayor Allen had to personally plead for calm when rioting broke out in the Summerhill neighborhood, which was suffering on numerous counts in the wake of the new Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium’s construction.  Rather than admit the collateral effect of the city’s recent redevelopment projects, Allen blamed the disorder on the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) which was actively organizing residents in the area, although he subsequently shifted emphasis toward building public housing estates to rehouse residents displaced by urban renewal [1].

The economic development strategies set in motion under Ivan Allen’s administration were continued into the subsequent decades, notably in the building of the World Congress Center, Georgia Dome, and the numerous projects associated with the 1996 Olympic Games.  Despite heavy promotion by city officials and the local business leaders, all have provoked controversies due to their disastrous effects on nearby low-income, historically African American communities.  Concerns brewing around current projects include the new Falcons Stadium and whether livability can be restored in the neighborhoods just south of downtown following the Atlanta Braves’ upcoming decampment to Cobb County.  Even the BeltLine, a former railway corridor revamped as a bike- and pedestrian-friendly trail frequently promoted as a green fix to the city’s transportation woes, is widely expected to exacerbate Atlanta’s accelerating gentrification.

Historical interest in Allen is on the rise.  A documentary on Allen premiered in 2015, joining two other films in the works on his successors, notably Atlanta’s first African American mayor Maynard Jackson (who died within a week of Allen, coincidentally).  The Georgia Institute of Technology named its Ivan Allen Jr. College of Liberal Arts in his honor in 1990, as a way of appreciating his leadership and complex legacy during a turbulent era.  In 2013, the College debuted an Ivan Allen Jr. Digital Collection containing photographs, editorial cartoons, film clips, select memorabilia, and interviews collected by Professor Ronald Bayor with individuals who worked alongside Mayor Allen.  The Atlanta History Center (AHC) recently made available to researchers the records of Allen’s mayoral administration; Professor Bayor along with Visiting Assistant Professor Todd Michney, also in the School of History and Sociology, recently won grant funding through the Digital Integrative Liberal Arts Center (DILAC), established with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, to collaborate with AHC in digitizing some of these records to make them more accessible.  It is our sincere hope that by revisiting the legacy of Ivan Allen Jr., that we may gain deeper insights into Atlanta’s recent past and in the process, empower more engaged civic participation on issues impacting the city’s most economically vulnerable residents.
[1] For an extended analysis, see Irene V. Holliman, “From Crackertown to Model City?  Urban Renewal and Community Building in Atlanta, 1963-1966,” Journal of Urban History 35, no. 3 (March 2009): 369-386.

Cities and Regions: Managing Growth and Change — Regional Studies Association North America Conference, Atlanta, USA


By Jennifer Clark


At Georgia Tech’s Center for Urban Innovation, we are thrilled to host the Regional Studies Association’s North American conference on June 15-17, 2016 on the theme Cities and Regions:  Managing Growth and Change.  The deadline for submitting abstracts to the conference is April 21, 2016. Click here to submit an abstract and register. Click here for additional information.

This conference is a great opportunity to bring together the international membership of the Regional Studies Association in the City of Atlanta at the Georgia Institute of Technology to discuss how, in the wake of the global financial crisis, cities all over the world are searching for new policies and practices capable of addressing major shifts in socio-economic relations at the urban and regional scale.  

Regional policies, particularly in the North American context, have responded to economic challenges by adopting new technologies and new institutional and organizational forms to manage growth and change at the city scale.  The result is a complex and uneven landscape of public and private actors delivering financial services, scaling-up supply chains, coordinating firm networks, diffusing process and material innovations, and organizing new forms of civic representation and participation.  

The inter-related processes of industrialization, urbanization, and regional and local development are complex.  These processes pose a major challenge for regional policy, firstly, for our conceptualizations of regional and urban development and, secondly, for specifying appropriate policy fixes to provide the conditions for sustainable, smart, and equitable economic growth.  

This conference provides a platform for researchers to address the effects of these policy, organizational, and institutional innovations and their impact on work, identity, governance, production networks, infrastructure investments, technology diffusion, and ultimately place. The conference will focus on the policy implications of emerging forms of governance and policy delivery relative to uneven development and inequality in a post-crisis era of ongoing market liberalization, financialization, and global competition.

The conference program highlights important leaders in the field of regional studies to discuss sustainability, equity, energy, innovation, manufacturing,







The 2016 RSA North America Conference, in the 51st Year of the Regional Studies Association, is an opportunity to discuss these issues, to chart future research imperatives, and to address concerns and challenges confronting policymakers and practitioners.  The conference organizers are keen to attract papers and sessions addressing a broad research and policy agenda, including contributions from disciplines that offer relevant insights associated with recasting our cities and regions. 

Conference Tracks and Themes:
A. Smart Cities, Smart Regions: connecting and connected regions, intersections of ICT and urban infrastructure, diffusion networks, partnership approaches, internet of things, financing city and regional development

B. Regional Innovation: Theory, Methods, Practice: urban and regional theories, methodology, value change (including big & open data), visualization, spatial economic analysis, metrics

C. Territory, Politics, Governance: metropolitan politics, institutions, regionalism, data-driven governance, policy evaluation, urban policy mobilities, intermediaries

D. Sustainable Cities and Regions: urban and regional sustainability at the city scale, risk, resilience, energy systems and sources, transportation networks

E. Emerging Community, Urban, and Regional Identities: culture, identity, citizenship, lived differences, racial and income inequalities, social capital, aging and succession planning, social entrepreneurship, open government, civic hacking

F. Labor Markets in Cities and Regions: geographies of jobs, changing skills and patterns of work, re-skilling regions and cities, local labor markets, immigration and skill, talent,  contract workers and precarious labor

G: Regional Economies: SMEs, Scale-Up, and the Future of Production Networks: smart specialization, evolutionary economic geography, competitiveness, reshoring and manufacturing, firm networks, sectoral policies and clusters, working regions, financialization and geographies of venture capital and private equity

Abstract Submission Guidance
The following guidelines set out the acceptable format for abstract submission. Please note that the abstract submission closing date — 21st April 2016.

Abstract guidelines:

Up to 400 words in length;
Text only; no diagrams, graphs, pictures, citations or maps
All contributing authors must be named, with their country and institution
Indicate which conference theme the paper is being submitted under