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October 19, 2009

Comments

dblwyo

Irving, as usual, an excellent and complex line of inquiry which rings true to me. But there may be a bit more to it - all your examples of cities (regions?) rising to the lead are examples of where concentrations of skills and resources triggered a takeoff, i.e. became nexii for innovation thru external economies. Northern Italy and the textile industry for example, which was the inheritor of centuries of flair, design and talents. You might want to look at Porter's "Competitive Advantage of Nations" or Chandler's "Big Business and the Wealth of Nations".
At the same time old cities tend to eat the geese that laid the golden egg with rent control, land use regulations and other bureaucratic burdens...the discussion in Tom Sowell's "Applied Economics" explores some of these issues in detail.
On the potential of cities Paul Romer, one of the most constructive and contributory modern economists, has started an effort to investigate and set up smart cities. He's presented at TED and started a web site. Worth exploring or even contacting.
The bottomline here is that if NYC wants to return to its glory days it needs to reduce the regulatory burden, encourage entrepreneurship and make capital available.

Amy Wohl

Irving, provocative as usual. I wonder if it will be easier to get mini-Silicon Valleys in Pittsburgh or Philadelphia (to name two) than to get New York to make such a basic change. I believe the next wave of innovation may be around the creation and harnessing of content for every purpose, from better running the city itself, to providing better healthcare, better resource allocation, and better education and entertainment. New York could have some advantages for that; it is a center of content creation, but we tried that path in the days of the Internet Bubble, and very little emerged of lasting value (that is, big companies or big ideas). I love the energy and the interconnectedness of the Silicon Valley but I am not convinced that is needs to stand alone in its ability to enable continuing innovation.

Atul Arya

Irving,

This is a very interesting and timely blog. You are correct to point out that there is more attention being paid to urbanization but not as much to innovation and entrepreneurship focused around mega cities. In my view, this is critical for managing the future demand of natural resources; in particular energy, food, water and land. On some measures Manhattan is one of the greenest places on the planet as an article in the New Yorker proclaimed several years back. I was in New Delhi earlier this month and it was disheartening to see this once beautiful city falling apart due to unbearable strains of migration and the total lack of basic services. The urban planners (mostly career bureaucrats in India) need urgent help to develop the “systems of systems” approach as you propose. Given that the future growth in population, urbanization, resource use and GHG emissions will be driven by emerging economies like India and China, I feel there is an urgent need for corporations and academic institutions in East and West to cooperate and collaborate on this front...

Daniel Christadoss

Irving,
Well said. I have always wondered about the same. I lived in South Bend, Indiana for many years. It had an excellent industrial base, a good work ethic, world class universities in the vicinity. You are right. It did not have the right mix of the right people to create innovation and entrepreneurship of the type enjoyed by Boston and the Silicon valley.
Reminds me of Ahmedabad in India which was the forerunner of the Indian industrial growth. Bangalore was made after the multinationals discovered it but Ahmedabad started it.

ring toy

In my opinion, New York has been the cultural hegemony of the last 50 years. Paris is trying hard to get back its role, but NYC's melting pot (as you refered) have been able to represent in a unique way the global culture. Therefore, besides business & technological innovation, I think NY needs to keep focusing in cultural innovation, design & fashion trends.
Tourism is very important too and it is more than urgent that the City improves the metro system. If you want to give a trendy image or look like a super technological city, you cannot have that metro.

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