“Other communities invest in things like arenas or offer tax incentives for businesses or revitalize their waterfronts,” says Michelle Miller-Adams, a political scientist at the W. E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, which is located in the city. “The Kalamazoo Promise tries to develop the local economy with a long-term investment in human capital that is intended to change the town from the bottom up.” In this regard, the Promise can be seen as an exorbitant ante, staked by private funds, that calls to Kalamazoo’s better angels. It stokes hometown pride, prods citizens to engage and pulls businesses and their leaders into the public sphere. To date, Miller-Adams says, Kalamazoo’s Promise has inspired donors in 25 other cities and towns around the United States — including Pittsburgh, New Haven and El Dorado, Ark. — to start, or consider starting, similar programs.
I would call that "people-based economic development." The above article terms it as place-based. The distinction is important. It's about goals, changing the town from the bottom up. Put all your eggs in the human capital basket. Improve your hometown.
The Kalamazoo Promise aligns individual and community interests. People-based economic development can benefit a place. By extension, so can outmigration. Place-based economic development is designed to stop that; plug the brain drain. Such an approach is destructive, not constructive. Urban amenities are more a distraction, than a fix. But building a park or a bike path is a lot easier than tackling educational reform. Results are faster, more tangible. Ribbon cuttings make for great political theater. The goal is a better place, not better people. That's a shame.