John Henshall

B Com (Econ), Dip TRP, M Soc Sci (Planning & Environment), LFPIA

John, the founding partner of Essential Economics Pty Ltd (now part of Ethos Urban), is an Urban and Regional Economist and Town Planner with forty years of consulting experience in urban and regional economics, and in land use planning and development, both in Australia and abroad.

Case study: Reviving Clarksdale, a down and out town in the Mississippi Delta by tapping in to its history. How Australian insights helped attract new investment, jobs and services by highlighting the creativity of locals in the community.

In years gone by, Clarksdale was a thriving agricultural community and the vibrant centre of the Delta’s cotton industry. But changes were afoot – mechanisation of agriculture, the consequent loss of jobs and the movement of job-seeking residents to bigger cities, competition from other towns, and so on. Downtown Clarksdale fell into decay, with a loss of businesses, many dilapidated buildings, and a loss of purpose.

By the mid-2000s it was becoming evident that the local economy was regenerating and reinvigorating. Today, much of this re-birthing is attributable to creative individuals in the town: individuals who foresee a vibrant future focused around Delta blues and other cultural assets.

New jobs are being created, new services and amenities are available to residents and tourists alike, and old buildings are being restored, rehabilitated and re-purposed. Tourist spending and tax receipts are increasing, and new jobs and incomes created. Issues remain, including a lack of education, a high level of household poverty, and local government that has many competing priorities for development.

This session will explore these issues and opportunities, with useful lessons for Australia’s towns and regions.