The Formation and Administration of Multipurpose Development Districts

2019, Perspectives on Public Manage & Governance, with Aaron Deslatte & Tyler A. Scott

Full title: “The Formation and Administration of Multipurpose Development Districts: Private Interests through Public Institutions”

Link to article


Metropolitan communities across the United States are governed by an increasingly complex array of general, limited, and special-purpose governments. Although entrepreneurs’ pursuit of private benefit through local government formation is well recognized, we contend that their impact remains an underappreciated factor in contemporary local government landscapes. The argument is motivated by the emergence and proliferation of an innovation in local government form, which we refer to as “multipurpose development districts.” Through this article, we draw attention to these development districts and how they fit into theories of metropolitan governance. First, we distinguish development districts from their more traditional special district counterparts and offer a framework for conceptualizing development district formation and administration. Then, by way of illustration, we draw on evidence from case studies, media coverage, and development sector publications to provide a sketch of their growth and impacts across three states. Finally, we outline questions to guide research into development district implications, with particular attention to the institutionalization of private interests in these public entities.