During the past twenty years, many economists and policymakers have strongly advocated that the United States formulate a national industrial policy to improve the competitiveness of American firms in the global marketplace. These proposals call for both direct and indirect assistance to specific industrial sectors. Some would contend that U.S. industrial policies are being challenged by newer growth theories that shift the focus from the nation as the basic unit of industrial geography to regions and municipalities. There is little argument about the need for industrial policies that tie national, state, and local initiatives together. However, confusion and disagreement exist as to what defines industrial policy and what its appropriate level should be. This article addresses the debate about national industrial policy and state and local responses to industrial policy and offers a summary of key themes in the current literature.



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