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Working Paper

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Regionalism is being explored by a wide variety of community players who include representatives from the public, private, and not-for-profit sectors (Dodge 1996, 1). Intermunicipal agreements, county service expansion, new region-wide special purpose governments, and multi-sector coalitions of "civic regionalists" have proliferated throughout the country during the last decade, even though the benefits of regional cooperation remain elusive in many ways (Foster 1997, 375). Hence, the question remains: Do greater metropolitan planning efforts lead to higher levels of community prosperity and quality? Nelson and Foster (1999) have found some evidence that more coordinated regional governing structures, particularly regional utilities, seem to promote higher levels of economic welfare. But more coordination in service delivery does not necessarily stem from, or lead to, more coordination in planning. In fact, Foster (1997) has pointed out that it is easier for regions to develop coordinative mechanisms around systems maintenance functions, such as transportation and sewer system operation. However, these represent only two of the many inputs that are required to generate local investment and business growth. This paper attempts to answer the question.