How Should We Help Struggling Post-Industrial Cities?


I have been thinking a lot about the challenges of places like Flint. That is, what does the future hold for cities that have been hit hard by deindustrialization, but which have not yet seen real signs of a turnaround.

I’ve been looking at this in the context of other cities that were previously given up for dead but came back. For example, New York. What did those places do? What lessons do they hold? What brought them back?

This is the subject of my most recent column in the November issue of Governing magazine, “Looking Back from the Future” in which I argue that it look macroeconomic change to make it happen, but that local actions can help prepare the way:

Those common factors are changes in the macroeconomy and culture. Today’s globalized, technology-powered economy rewards deep pools of specialized, highly skilled talent. It rewards access to global networks, both physical, like international airports, and those linking human capital. What’s more, the talent needed in these industries is attracted to “thick” labor markets — those with both many job openings and a deep labor pool to compete for them — to high-amenity environments and increasingly, though not exclusively, to dynamic urban neighborhoods.

All of these play to the advantage of cities like New York. That doesn’t mean good leadership isn’t critical.

Click through to read the whole thing.

from Aaron M. Renn


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