Classic Case - Crossing the River: An Economic Development and Diversity Initiative in Southwestern Michigan (Part B)

Crossing the River: An Economic Development and Diversity Initiative in Southwestern Michigan (Part B)


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  • Product Description

    The twin cities of Benton Harbor and St. Joseph, Michigan, have long been known for manufacturing, particularly Whirlpool Corp., and racial tension. Prominent accounts--including journalist Alex Kotlowitz's "The Other Side of the River--account for racially motivated incidents and tragedies between two cities in which one, Benton Harbor, is predominantly African--American, while the other, St. Joseph, is principally white. This case tells the story of Whirlpool's elaborate and well--funded multi--year effort to stimulate economic development, racial reconciliation, and encourage tolerance. Whirlpool executives feared that the cities' reputation was impacting their ability to recruit top talent. The Whirlpool--funded Council for World--Class Communities was designed to use citizen--driven discussion, and planning, to create recommendations that would improve conditions in lower--income areas and make the metropolitan area more welcoming. In an ironic and sobering post--script, these efforts are undercut by a series of riots in Benton Harbor, which occur in the summer of 2003. These riots raise questions about the Council's effectiveness, and how it should proceed.

    Learning Objective:
    The case prompts discussion about community tolerance and diversity, business--government--community relations, the structure and effectiveness of citizen--based planning efforts, and economic development strategies for older industrial communities. See also Part B (1714.0).

  • Other Details

    Publication Date: January 01, 2003
    HKS Case Number: 1714.0
    Case Author: Susan Rosegrant
    Faculty Lead: David Brown and Christine Letts
    Pages (incl. exhibits): 3
    Setting: United States
    Language: English
    Funding Source: Kellogg Foundation
    _pages: 1-15
    _geography: US & Canada
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