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The local vs. global city

Blogger and Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, Aaron M. Renn, recently published an interesting long-form article called, Rethinking America’s Cities’ Success Strategy.

One of the central themes is the idea that globalization has caused a kind of bifurcation in cities – a disconnect between the local and the global. In an effort to compete with other global cities around the world, we have begun to turn our back on local concerns. At the same time, not every city has the market power of, say, New York or London.

So what does this mean for cities? Here’s a quote from the article that I think does a good job explaining the mental model:

At the end of the article, Aaron makes a number of recommendations for how to better think about local entrepreneurship and economic growth. The first one is as follows:

“Local civic priorities should favor building a successful and inclusive local economy, including entrepreneurship, over global concerns and real estate development.”

Despite this being seemingly contradictory to do what I do for a living, I think it’s important to note that on a fundamental level, architects and developers simply create space. 

It might be a beautiful space. A space that improves well-being, creates value, and enables certain activities. But at the end of the day, there needs to be demand for that space. And a robust local economy is paramount to that equation. So I agree that we shouldn’t forget about local and expect that “if we build it, they will come.”

If you have the time, the full article is worth a read. It’s also part of a broader series on entrepreneurship and cities, so there are a bunch of other related articles on the same page.

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