This is simply a quick overview of topics I intend to work up further.
(1) The difference between microfinance and economic development is that microfinance assumes the intangible assets are already there (or easily built), specifically the intangible assets related to health, relationships, and skills. Economic development focuses on building those intangible assets first, without concern about whether a lack of access to capital will mean they stagnate or decay once they've been built.
(2) The way to enable future economic growth is to build intangible assets. "Supply side" economic thought glossed over the fact that when you invest in a business, relationships and knowledge are formed along with an actual product that may or may not make it to market and then be competitively successful. However, stimulus money does the same thing; in particular it builds relationships and guards physical and mental well-being. Just as community development + microfinance need to work together in emergent markets, encouraging the flow of capital and ensuring the maintenance and growth of intangible assets is crucial in the revitalization of mature markets, whether they're distressed or booming.
Most intangible assets are built in families and communities (and intangible liabilities are unfortunately built there too, in the forms of behaviors that limit the development of trust, health, emotional wellbeing, etc.) Specific metrics can be built into community monitoring processes in order to support community and build a framework for future economic value.
(3) Specifically, the way that the innovative environment in Silicon Valley can be "replicated" is by mapping the intangible assets which are used to create the tangible ones, and then thinking about how to build those intangible assets within a new environment. It's a "localization process," requiring replicating and refining that process in other contexts. Based on past research at Ricoh Innovation Labs, I have a system for visually depicting such a map and its change over time.
(4) So, once we've gotten to a point where we can develop intangible assets in the emergent and distressed markets, and we understand how to innovate and to replicate the development of innovative environments, then we can map how to replicate specific, successful programs within that environment, using the same methodology.
(5) Finally even in existing firms who are relatively successful in navigating the fast-changing waters, it's likely they have a Corporate Social Responsibility program. There are many reasons to have such a program, including building internal morale. However, by measuring impact and tying this into community metrics, a significant amount of knowledge can be built, turning CSR programs into strategic assets for firms.