Equity, Community, and Growth: What the Nation Can Learn From America’s Metropolitan Regions

In the last several years, much has been written about growing economic challenges, increasing income inequality, and political polarization in the United States. This new book by Chris Benner and Manuel Pastor argues that lessons for addressing these national challenges are emerging from a new set of realities in America’s metropolitan regions: first, that inequity is, in fact, bad for economic growth; second, that bringing together the concerns of equity and growth requires concerted local action; and, third, that the fundamental building block for doing this is the creation of diverse and dynamic epistemic (or knowledge) communities, which help to overcome political polarization and help regions address the challenges of economic restructuring and social divides.

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Just Growth: Inclusion and Prosperity in America’s Metropolitan Regions

Breaking new ground in its innovative blend of quantitative and qualitative methods, the book essentially argues that another sort of growth is indeed possible. While offering specific insights for regional leaders and analysts of metropolitan areas, the authors also draw a broader – and quite timely – set of conclusions about how to scale up these efforts to address a U.S. economy still seeking to recover from economic crisis and ameliorate distributional divisions.

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This Could Be the Start of Something Big: How Social Movements for Regional Equity are Transforming Metropolitan America

For nearly two decades, progressives have been dismayed by the steady rise of the right in U.S. politics. Often lost in the gloom and doom about American politics is a striking and sometimes underanalyzed phenomenon: the resurgence of progressive politics and movements at a local level. Across the country, urban coalitions, including labor, faith groups, and community-based organizations, have come together to support living wage laws and fight for transit policies that can move the needle on issues of working poverty. Just as striking as the rise of this progressive resurgence has been its reception among unlikely allies. In places as diverse as Chicago, Atlanta, and San Jose, the usual business resistance to pro-equity policies has changed, particularly when it comes to issues like affordable housing and more efficient transportation systems. To see this change and its possibilities requires that we recognize a new thread running through many local efforts: a perspective and politics that emphasizes “regional equity.”

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Staircases or Treadmills: Labor Market Intermediaries and Economic Opportunity in a Changing Economy

Globalization, technological change, and deregulation have made the American marketplace increasingly competitive in recent decades, but for many workers this “new economy” has entailed heightened job insecurity, lower wages, and scarcer benefits. As the job market has grown more volatile, a variety of labor market intermediaries-organizations that help job seekers find employment-have sprung up, from private temporary agencies to government “One-Stop Career Centers.” In Staircases or Treadmills? Chris Benner, Laura Leete, and Manuel Pastor investigate what approaches are most effective in helping workers to secure jobs with decent wages and benefits, and they provide specific policy recommendations for how job-matching organizations can better serve disadvantaged workers.

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Work in the New Economy: Flexible Labor Markets in Silicon Valley

This book contributes to our understanding of the transformation of work in the information economy, through a detailed examination of labor markets in Silicon Valley. It provides an original and insightful analysis of flexible labor including growing volatility in work demands and increasingly tenuous employment relations. Contributes to our understanding of the transformation of work in the information economy, through a detailed examination of labor markets in Silicon Valley. Provides an original and insightful analysis of flexible labor including growing volatility in work demands and increasingly tenuous employment relations. Examines the increasingly important role of labor market intermediaries.Shows that some workers clearly thrive in this vibrant context, but many face high levels of insecurity admist growing inequality.

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Local and Global: Management of Cities in the Information Age

ordi Borja and Manuel Castells, with Maria Behlil, and Chris Benner

This text challenges the belief that cities will eventually disappear as territorial forms of social organization as new information technologies permit the articulation of social processes without regard for distance, arguing that the specific role of cities will become more important, and proposing that a dynamic and creative relationship be built up between the local and the global. In this way, cities will remain the focus of social organization, political management and cultural expression, equipped to deal with the enormous social and environmental problems of urbanization.

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Reports, scholarly articles and contributions.

Campaign seeks to push Seattle minimum wage to $15

Washington already has the nation's highest state minimum wage at $9.19 an hour. Now, there's a push in Seattle, at least, to make it $15. That would mean fast food workers, retail clerks, baristas and other minimum wage workers would get what protesters demanded when they shut down a handful [...]

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Forum will discuss raising local minimum wage

Progressive Women of Napa Valley is sponsoring a forum to start a community conversation about the economic impact of a local increase in the minimum wage. The organization reports that while Napa County has over 3 million visitors a year who spend $1.4 billion dollars, more than 24 percent of [...]

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Guest commentary: Bay Area is not meeting its affordable housing needs

The Bay Area's affordable housing crisis will be solved only through policies and practices that result in the construction of new affordable units. These units will protect against gentrification and displacement, keep families in their homes and bring unexpected environmental benefits. This issue has most recently attracted attention in San [...]

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Davis organization attempts to raise minimum wage to $15

According to Chris Benner, professor of community and regional development and a supporter of the campaign, raising the minimum wage wouldn’t have a significant impact on the consumer. “The estimates for $15 of minimum wage are that it would be a 10 percent increase in restaurant prices and a four [...]

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Technology and Inequality

The signs of the gap—really, a chasm—between the poor and the super-rich are hard to miss in Silicon Valley. On a bustling morning in downtown Palo Alto, the center of today’s technology boom, apparently homeless people and their meager belongings occupy almost every available public bench. Twenty minutes away in [...]

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G-Sync: A Just, Equitable City

Many of us want to believe Grand Rapids, or any city we call home, is a just and equitable place. The only way to prove such a theory is to dive head first into research. Grand Rapids may soon have the answer. Chris Benner, an associate professor in Human and [...]

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In the News

Interviews and mentions of my research in local and national media.